Aug. 4, 2022 By Christian Murray
The City has approved a plan that will see a dilapidated block of stores on Queens Plaza North demolished and replaced with a 26-story residential apartment complex.
The gritty block, located between 27th Street and Crescent Street, has been an eyesore for decades and the City has announced that it has approved a developer’s plan to transform the strip. The plan will see a 311-foot-tall tower go up with 417 residential units—124 of which will be deemed affordable– and 7,600 square feet of ground floor commercial space.
The property, with an address of 25-01 Queens Plaza North, is owned by Grubb Properties. The plan, which required the approval of a zoning density bonus, did not have to go through the public review process known as ULURP and only needed the approval of the City Planning Commission (CPC) in order to move forward. The CPC approved the plan July 27.
Grubb Properties was able to get the bonus by taking advantage of a zoning provision—called Zoning for Accessibility—that provided the company with additional floor area in exchange for building an elevator and enlarging a staircase at the rundown Queensboro Plaza 7-N-W subway station.
The developer, more specifically, has agreed to replace the existing subway entrance—and expand the staircase—where its Queens Plaza North site is located, as well as install a street-level elevator.
For the subway improvements, Grubb was rewarded with a floor area bonus of 20 percent. Without the bonus floor area, the company would have been restricted to a 19-story building, with 343 market rate units.
The site is located within the confines of the Queens Plaza Subdistrict of the Special Long Island City Mixed Use District, which permits high-density residential and commercial buildings as-of-right.
“This is a huge win for transit riders, and further proof that Zoning for Accessibility will continue to deliver results for New Yorkers,” said Dept. of City Planning Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick, who noted that this is the second transit improvement bonus approved under the Zoning for Accessibility and the first outside Manhattan.
“In a partnership with the MTA, the CPC has approved a project that will deliver not only a new elevator and new entryway for transit riders, which is paid for by private developers, but also 400 new homes—120 of them affordable,” Garodnick said in a statement.
The elevator and upgrades to be built by Grubb will also complement ongoing MTA capital work at the station. The MTA is installing two elevators at the station to make it fully accessible, one on the south side that connects to the station’s mezzanine and another that connects the mezzanine to the platforms above.
Scott Solomon, with the NYC Department of City Planning, told the CPC at its July 25 hearing that Grubb Properties is building the affordable housing in exchange for a 421-a tax break.
Representatives for the developer told the Community Board 1’s Land Use and Zoning committee in March that Grubb plans to offer two-thirds of the 124 affordable housing units at 130 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and the remaining affordable units at 70 percent AMI.
For a family of four, 130 percent AMI equates to a household income of $173,420, while 70 percent AMI equates to about $ $93,380.
The community board approved the project in June, when it rendered an advisory recommendation. The application, given that it involved a bonus under the Zoning for Accessibility provision, did not have to go before the Queens Borough President nor the City Council.
Grubb anticipates that it will take 42 months to fully demolish and build the development, which would occur in one phase.