Are insane building expansions like this one on their way to Queens neighborhoods?

396 Cornelia Street web
QNS/Photo by Anthony Giudice

A huge two-story expansion has been added on top of a home on Cornelia Street near the Bushwick/Ridgewood border, and some residents are concerned that more of the same could be coming across to the Queens side.

According to documents filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB), the owners of 396 Cornelia St. filed for — and were approved for — expanding the existing two-story, two-family building into a four-story, six-family edifice. The application was approved in June 2015, and a permit was issued for the entire job on May 11, 2016.

This expansion will add a new second floor mezzanine level, a new third floor, a new fourth floor and a bulkhead on top of the building, effectively doubling the square footage of the building, from 2,254 square feet to 4,340 square feet.

The documents show that the building’s new additions are all in compliance with the area’s R6 zoning regulations, including the total height of the building, the required length and width, floor area ratio (FAR) and yard sizes. The plans even propose adding a tree to the site.

With the passing of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s zoning text amendments earlier this year, many residents feel developments like this could make their way into Ridgewood and neighboring areas.

Paul Kerzner, president of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA), said that he had a hand in helping to “downzone” the Ridgewood area to prevent this exact thing from happening in the neighborhood.

“In 1998, anticipating what’s happening in Ridgewood now, Ted Renz, who’s the executive director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation, and myself quietly rezoned Ridgewood. We downzoned Ridgewood,” Kerzner said at June’s RPOCA meeting. “You can’t build in Ridgewood anything more than what is there now.”

Kerzner said that much of Ridgewood sits in an R6B zone, meaning that the maximum height of a building can only be 50 feet, which is different than the 55-foot maximum height of an R6 zone. This would prevent expansions such as the one on Cornelia Street from coming into Ridgewood.

QNS has reached out to the owners of the property for comment and are awaiting a response.

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