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Community Board Approves Rezoning of 52nd Street Sites, After Much Debate

Vacated warehouse on 52nd Street that was once the home of Baby King (Google)

Nov. 12, 2019 By Christian Murray

Community Board 2 approved a rezoning plan that will bring at least 60 apartments to 52nd Street in Woodside.

Developers Steven and Roy Pomeranz were given the thumbs up by the board to rezone a number of parcels on 52nd Street—between Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue—in their quest to construct an 8-story, 60-unit apartment complex at 43-13 to 43-21 52nd St.

The application, to rezone the sites from R5B to R7A (with a C2/3 overlay), will go onto the borough president for review, and then go before the City Planning Commission and City Council for a vote. Without the rezoning, the Pomeranz brothers will be limited to about 18 units—likely consisting of six, three-story town houses.

The Pomeranz family have owned the sites for nearly 60 years, when they founded Baby King and operated a warehouse from 1962 to 1996 along the strip, before moving their plant to Jamaica Queens. The parcels have been vacant since.

But the vote was not straight forward despite the board having little concern about the size of the proposed building or the number of units.

The original motion to approve it was rejected by a vote of 11 for the motion and 18 against. That motion included two provisions that troubled some of the board members: that the developers pay prevailing wage to construction and service workers; and that the community facility space on offer be for a community-based non-profit only.

The board was largely in agreement as to the building itself, which will see 15 of the 60 units dedicated for affordable housing–for people earning 60 percent of the average median income. The building will also include 4,000 square feet of commercial space; 4,600 square feet for a community facility; and space for 43 vehicles.

The disagreement was over prevailing wage and the definition of community facility space, which in zoning terms refers to medical offices, schools (including for-profit schools), non-profits and similar uses. One board member argued that the space should strictly be for local non-profits—as opposed to for-profit businesses or medical facilities– and be 5,000 square feet.

The developers aim to find a school to fill the community space, although they have not identified a tenant.

Christine Hunter, a board member, argued that the development is small and that the prevailing wage conditions would make it tougher for the project to be financially feasible–particularly with the affordable housing component. She also argued that landlords are struggling to find commercial tenants and that restricting who can occupy the community facility would also represent a hardship.

However, some took exception to Hunter’s argument, saying that affordable housing should not mean less than prevailing wage.

Hunter, nevertheless, put forward a motion to approve the development without the prevailing wage condition as well as not imposing further restrictions on how the community facility space can be used. The motion passed by 18 to 11.

The rezoning will also incorporate three sites that are not owned by the Pomeranz family that are also located on the east side of 52nd Street between Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue.

The Pomeranz application, as per City Planning’s request, would also see the site of El Renuevo Church at 43-25 52nd St., Alpha auto shop at 43-27, and a three-story apartment building at 43-09 upzoned to R7A. The upzoning of these properties could potentially result in an additional 76 units—on top of the 60 units.

The rezoning Area. The Pomeranz sites are represented by Projected Development Site 1; the church by Site 2; three-story building site 3; and auto repair shop site 4

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7 Comments

Union Mike

LOL for a second I thought we might have had some decent community board members. Turns out they only objected because they are SCABS who wanted to make sure workers get screwed out of good wages, benefits, and safety precautions?! I know I shouldn’t be surprised. These boards are fixed with machine cronies too brain dead to get handed out real jobs (and that’s saying something). The fix was always in.

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Neil D'Auria

So we make sure there is no prevailing wge, exploitng those who build it , and maximizing profit for builder, owner… good move Hunter and rest of board. Show how you give zero concern for the working people of Sunnyside, as long as the business crony(donation/campaign) makes out

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Bill

More architectural clunk? Check.
Useless to neighborhood?
Check.
Overpriced and undersized?
Check.
Developers the only winners?
Check.

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Suncoast

The board does not make policy. They can only recommend. Community Board 7 voted no for bike lanes but the mayor had them installed anyway

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