A proposed deal between the Long Island City YMCA and a developer looking to construct a 17-story hotel got a thumbs-down from members of Community Board 2.
During its monthly meeting on Thursday in Sunnyside, the board unanimously recommended that the sale of the YMCA’s air rights not move forward. If completed, the sale would allow the developer to build 17 stories instead of 14 stories as-of-right.
The Boards of Standards and Appeals (BSA) granted a variance to the facility in the ’90s to allow for community facility use. It was then granted a variance in 1996 to allow for a rear yard, according to attorney Eric Palatnik, who represents both the YMCA and developer.
Now, the YMCA, located at 32-23 Queens Blvd., must gain permission from the BSA to sell 40,000 square feet of unused air rights. The developer, which has purchased the 20,000-square-foot lot adjacent to the Y at 32-45 Queens Blvd., can currently build five stories of hotel space and 10 stories of commercial space, Palatnik said.
The YMCA is seeking permission from the BSA to transfer the air rights so the developer can build a 17-story hotel with floors 15 through 17 for medical office space.
Paul Koester, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the YMCA, said the sale price is $1.9 million. He also said $250,000 will be invested back into the Long Island City YMCA locker rooms while the remaining amount will be used for long-term maintenance of Y’s throughout the city.
“Half of our buildings are 80 years and older so our maintenance needs are substantial and we are 501(c)(3) nonprofit and we have a responsibility of making sure that our properties are up to code, are going to be attractive and in good operating condition,” Koester said.
He also added that the facility has additional space that it may use one day to expand.
CB 2 Chairman Pat O’Brien said that there are already a proliferation of hotels in the community and that the board was disappointed when the developer did not meet with them to discuss his vision.
“The one thing that this community does not need more of are hotels,” O’Brien said. “We’re a little suspect of new hotels coming in where in effect it’s being developed behind door number 3 because the developer has never come to meet with us [and tell us] what his plans are.”
Though the board recommended to vote against the transfer of air rights, the BSA will make the final decision.