By Carlotta Mohamed
“Do you live in this area?!” some Woodside residents shouted repeatedly last week at the Community Board 2 public meeting with developer Madison Capital Realty, which is planning to construct a two-tower residential building at 69-02 Queens Blvd.
During the public forum at St. Mary’s Winfield at 70-31 48th Ave., residents asked questions and vented their frustrations at the developers about how the project would affect their community.
“Queens Boulevard is known as the Boulevard of Death,” said Raymond Lee at the May 9 meeting, which drew about 60 people. “There will be more traffic, construction, congested schools, and public transportation.”
Under the firm’s proposal, which would require rezoning, the project would mark a large new residential development from the ground up in Queens, paving the way for a half-million-square-foot complex with 561 units — of which 169 would be affordable — and 5,600 square feet of retail. The project would include a pair of towers, one 14 stories and the other 17 stories, along with a 242-space surface parking lot.
“As of right now they’re allowed to put 207 units; they’re proposing to build 561,” said Councilman Robert Holden (D-Maspeth). “Now what happens with a one-bedroom? Sometimes you get a family of four or six in one-bedroom apartments. I have serious reservations about this. I didn’t hear very good answers today, and am still waiting.”
Holden said he would’ve preferred the development of a school in the neighborhood instead of two high-rise buildings since District 24 is the “most overcrowded district with unfunded public school seats.”
With little or no response to the public’s concerns about the issue of overcrowding, Madison Capital Realty said amenities would include a recreation room, parking lot for its residents, and open space with chairs and tables outside. Its plans also include a tree-lined courtyard and 5,600 square feet of retail space.
The project is currently going through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, under which the rulings of Community Board 2 and the borough president on the rezoning are advisory, and then brought to the City Council where a decision will be made, said CB 2 Chairwoman, Denise Keehan-Smith.
According to the Commercial Observer, that provides information on the commercial real estate industry, if Madison Capital Realty doesn’t get the rezoning, it could still possibly build a 12-story, 289-unit building with 58 below-market units on the site.
The rezoning would force Madison Capital Realty to rent 30 percent of the development’s units to families earning at or below 80 percent of the area median income, which is part of the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program.
The development site spans six parcels, but Madison Capital Realty only owns two lots. The properties were once home to a gas station, a Mexican restaurant, a florist and an Armenian cultural center. The florist and cultural center have not yet sold their lots, both of which are industrially zoned.
Among cheers and boos at the meeting, another resident, Shane Toner, who is part of the New York City District Council of Carpenters, said he was “concerned about the company’s use of non- union workers to build the towers.”
Joseph Geiger, who is the executive secretary treasurer, of the Council of Carpenters, said it was a shame how undocumented workers are exploited by non-member unions, and urged the developers to “build responsibly.”
“Will you have responsible contractor language for these 561 units to be built to give to the community, to my members, so they can afford to live here?” said Geiger. “Now I know you’re the developer, not the contractor, but it’s your responsibility to hire someone that’s going to be a responsible contractor.”
Madison Capital Realty has already developed three rental buildings in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and completed condominium projects at One Great Jones Alley in Noho and 78 Irving Place in the Gramercy Park area.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha