Feb. 11, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Community Board 2 voted against a plan filed by Home Depot that calls for a massive home-improvement store and a six-story self-storage facility on a manufacturing site in Maspeth.
Home Depot needs a special permit since the 59-02 Borden Ave. site is located in a manufacturing district and the proposed six story self-storage facility does not conform with permitted uses.
The proposed development also calls for two one-story retail buildings. The retail buildings and separate Home Depot store comply with zoning regulations and can be built as of right.
The board rejected the application and said it would only approve the special permit if Home Depot agrees to use the two retail buildings for industrial use only. The Board in making the request said it aims to preserve the manufacturing integrity of the district.
The board’s decision is merely advisory, with the City Planning Commission and City Council ultimately determining the plan’s fate.
The site is located within the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone, which was established to ensure the preservation of industrial businesses. Those who oppose the application argue that this sets a bad precedent.
Home Depot, represented by the law firm Akerman LLP, argues that the self-storage facility would be of value since it meets the needs of small businesses– particularly contractors– and is a model that has worked elsewhere.
The company said that there are no self-storage areas within a quarter mile and that the facility would be in demand. The facility would be operated by a third-party vendor.
The development site is bound by Borden Avenue to the north, 55th Drive to the south and Maurice Avenue to the east. The self-storage facility would be located to the rear of the site—by the Long Island Expressway– and adjacent to the proposed 134,000 square foot Home Depot store. The two one-story retail buildings would front onto Maurice Avenue.
Quincy Ely-Cate, from the Maspeth Business Industrial Association, said he is against the proposal. He said the self-storage facility does not comply and he does not want it to take space in the IBZ. He said that there are 850 industrial businesses and 15,000 related jobs within the IBZ that need to be protected.
“These businesses are currently under threat and face tremendous pressures from the increase in industrial real estate rents and valuations as developers encroach on these designated areas with speculation of alternative non-conforming uses,” he said.
The Community Board’s decision broke with the opinion of its Land Use Committee that voted in favor of it last month.
Lisa Deller, Chair of the Land Use Committee, said that committee met with officials from Home Depot last month and approved the plan after hearing that the self-storage facility would benefit small businesses and local contractors. She also noted that the development would create 400 jobs and the Home Depot store would be built with union labor.
The board’s decision is advisory only and the application will now go on to be reviewed by the Queens Borough President, City Planning Commission and the City Council.
The plan is likely to be approved, since Council Member Robert Holden said he is in favor of it and the decision is ultimately made by the City Council. It is custom for the council to vote in lockstep with the representative of the district where a development is proposed.