Rezoning proposals detail affordable housing, business expansions in land use public hearing

Rendering by Sheldon Lobel PC

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards listened to rezoning requests Thursday from three different applicants related to properties they hope to make changes to. The rezoning requests were made to allow for the development of new units or the expansion of an existing property.

The first request related to developing a five-story building with 40 residential units at 25-46 Far Rockaway Blvd. The property comprises two lots and adds up to approximately 15,000 square feet. Changing the property from an R4-1 to R6B zoning district, it would allow for the construction of this building as it was drawn up. It would also require that of the 40 residential units, at least 10 would be affordable housing.

This project would also include 22 residential parking spaces below the building. However, the applicant, Isaiah Moultrie, is open to adding more spaces if necessary, to as many as 50. There would also be bike rack access in the parking area.

Moultrie stated he intends to hire locally to construct this project, creating jobs in the area. Employing at-risk youth for the work was also a stated goal as a means to teach them valuable skills that could help keep them out of trouble.

“We’re going to be using local people from the area to build this,” Moultrie said. “We’re going to be having a workforce program where we’ll be taking at-risk youth. Each trade would have at-risk youths partnered with them to teach them actual skills, from electrical to excavation to plumbing. We look forward to getting this [project] done.”

A lot of local support was gathered for this proposal before the rezoning request at the land use public hearing. Letters of support were submitted by local faith-based organizations and organizations supporting local contracting and youth employment. Additionally, 40 residents signed a petition supporting this project.

A few weeks prior to the land use public hearing, the local community board discussed the proposal. At the time, they recommended an R5D rezoning, which would change the building from five stories to four. While R5D and R6B are similar, one big difference is that the former does not require any affordable housing units.

The second request at the meeting was for rezoning at 26-50 Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Flushing West. This would allow for expanding the applicant’s business there, BQE Fitness.

The business wants the property changed from a M1-1 to M1-2 zoning district. While these zonings have similar uses, the maximum floor area ratio for M1-1 is 1.0 (one times the lot area) and the maximum floor area ratio for M1-2 is 2.0. The argument was made that such a change would help to further promote economic development and job creation through enlargement.

Under the proposal, BQE Fitness would expand within the existing building. A three-story enlargement would also be included, raising the property’s floor area ratio to 1.31. The expansion would allow for new programming and amenity space for clients and the opportunity for the business to drastically increase the amount of employees there from 55 to more than 100. The expansion would also bring an additional 111 parking spaces for customers.

The largest part of this proposed expansion is the addition of two new 7,000-square-foot courts. They can be used for a variety of sports, including basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, yoga and much more. It can also be used to entertain for children’s birthday parties.

The third and final rezoning proposal was for 141-05 109th Ave. in Jamaica. The proposed changes would allow for constructing a new four-story mixed-use building. The property has been owned by Mal Pal Realty Corp. since 1985. It operates the business there, All American Mason Supply. Additionally, Mal Pal Realty Corp. also owns commercial property located across the street at 139-20 109th Ave.

The applicant is looking to change the zoning from R3A to R6B/C2-3 and map Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) areas. Such a change would allow for a modest increase in floor area and an expansion of allowed uses.

The Department of City Planning had previously performed a detailed analysis of the proposed rezoning actions in the area and concluded that they would not have an adverse impact on the environment. This analysis was based upon reviewing the area’s land use, zoning, public policy, urban design, visual resources, open space, traffic, air quality and noise.

The development being proposed would be four stories tall and comprise 60,770 square feet, with 45,068 of it being dedicated to residential use. There would be 56 dwelling units, with 14 of them being income-restricted. The residential units would include five studio apartments, 26 with one bedroom and 22 with two or three bedrooms. Office space and a retail store will comprise 9,752 square feet. Additionally, a community facility will take up 5,950 square feet. The property will also feature 39 attended accessory parking spaces.

Sustainable design will be incorporated into the rezoning as well. Among these features are green roofs, solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, permeable pavement and possibly even bioswales.

This rezoning proposal was made following feedback from the community board on a previous proposal. When they expressed concern over the building being too tall, its height was reduced to match other nearby buildings in the area. More parking spaces were also added to the design and decorative features will be added to the building so it doesn’t look too modern.

The applicant intends to hire locally for the work to be done on the site. They are also open to providing space to local businesses and non-profits. According to Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica Executive Director Lori Miller, the organization wholeheartedly approves of the rezoning application for the site.

“As an affordable housing advocate, we support this application,” Miller said. “It’s very important to our community to have a community facility space, even more important is affordable housing. There is not a day that we do not receive numerous calls or drop-ins from folks in the community who are looking for affordable housing. If this brings in affordable housing and community space, we are fully in favor.”