Council member Gennaro calls for modifications to proposed Vleigh Place development

Gennaro Vleigh Place rezoning
City Councilmember James Gennaro. (Photo courtesy of Gennaro’s office)

New York City Council Member James Gennaro addressed the divisive Vleigh Place development rezoning June 29, requesting for the zoning designation to be changed from R6A to R6B. This modification would reduce the maximum allowable height from 85 feet to 55 feet, among other changes.

In addition to the decrease in height, the modification to the designation would reduce the projected floor area and the number of housing units. According to Gennaro, the modified application would give the building a floor area of 76,017 square feet and 73 projected units. This represents an approximate 48% decrease from the original application, which called for 124,391 square feet and 119 projected housing units.

“Over the last few months, I heard many community members and advocates express concerns about this project,” Gennaro said. “I monitored all the community board meetings and heard passionate testimony both for and against this project as initially proposed by the developer. After careful consideration of all the input I received, I have decided that the correct step forward for this application will be for me to modify the application from zoning designation R6A (as proposed by the applicant) to zoning designation R6B.”

The Council can accept, modify, or deny the application for the rezoning plan.

Prior to making this decision, Gennaro said he had reviewed recommendations from both Community Board 8 and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. Among those he interacted with to get their thoughts on the development were community residents, local institutions and stakeholders. Additionally, he sought the advice of the City Council Land Use Division and the chairs of the Council’s Committee on Land Use and Committee on Zoning.

During his discussion with the developer prior to making the modifications, Gennaro was told Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) would remain in the form of Option Two. Under MIH Option Two, 30% of the total housing units built in the development must be affordable at 80% of the city’s average median income (AMI).

Under Gennaro’s proposed modifications, the building would need to have 20-22 units affordable to families who earn 80% of New York City’s AMI, which would equate to a household income of $85,000 for families of three and $95,000 for families of four.

“I want to thank community members — both those who were in favor of and those who were opposed to the development as proposed — who became deeply engaged in this process,” Gennaro said. “You were heard and you made a difference. While we recognize the importance of new development, new developments must be contextual to the neighborhoods. This project, I believe, was not contextual as originally proposed. It will be now.”

The lot for which Gennaro created modifications to the zoning designation is bounded by Vleigh Place to the west, 78th Avenue to the south and 77th Road to the north. Gennaro said he is still willing to take questions from the public on the project through his staff member Adam Suionov by phone at 718-217-4969.

During a virtual hearing on the project last April, some members of the community expressed various concerns about the project and its impact on the area. One common complaint then was that traffic in the area was already really bad and adding so many more people to the neighborhood at once via the housing units would only make things worse.

Additionally, some in the community weren’t thrilled with the idea of having a high-rise building in a neighborhood of low-rise buildings. Some in favor of the project during the virtual hearing cited the prospect of more affordable housing, which some residents feel is needed in Queens.

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