By Bianca Fortis
Work has already begun to build 314 apartment units on top of the Rego Center shopping mall in Rego Park.
An application submitted by Manhattan-based Vornado Realty Trust to construct the 24-story addition was approved in June, according to documents filed with the city Department of Buildings.
The addition would be 288 feet high and will be designed by the New York firm SLCE Architects, records show.
The new development will not include enclosed parking space, according to the records. The mall already has a parking deck and the Rego Park Mall, in front of the center, has a four-level parking garage. The apartment piece, which was included in the original plans for the shopping center, is considered Phase 2 of the center’s development.
Vornado Realty Trust first opened the shopping complex, at 61-35 Junction Blvd., in 2010. While community members were initially concerned about traffic congestion in the area, the center was a welcome addition to the neighborhood because it brought the promise of jobs.
But congestion is again a concern, according to Community Board 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio. He said he has received calls from community members about the construction.
“It’s a major concern for everybody,” he said. “We have to monitor that closely from a traffic and law enforcement stand point, to make sure that things flow around the area.”
Gulluscio also said there is some concern among board members about the lack of library access in the area. The Rego Park branch of the Queens Library, on 63rd Drive, requires patrons to cross Queens Boulevard to use it. The Lefrak City branch is on the other side of the Long Island Expressway.
He said board members would carefully watch the new development so they will be aware of both traffic and other quality-of-life issues.
In late 2010, Vornado had proposed building a multi-use facility across the street from the mall that would include three floors of retail stores, residential housing and even a public school. At the time the company said it would not break ground for at least four or five years.
But, Gulluscio said, the board has not heard any new details about that proposal.
Vornado Realty Trust declined to comment about the new development.
Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.