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Massive Rezoning of Sunnyside-Woodside Passes in City Council

July 29, 2011 Staff Report

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced that New York City Council voted to pass rezoning for a 130-block area of Sunnyside and Woodside on July 28, 2011.

The move is a substantial overhaul in zoning ordinances, which govern land use and building shape, which have stood unchanged since 1961.

The rezoning was first presented for public comment and suggestions at a Community Board 2 meeting in February of 2010, after a process the city began in 2007. Van Bramer held three community meetings in conjunction with Community Board 2 in an effort to explain the often complex rezoning details and provide opportunities for community feedback.

Van Bramer said the rezoning would protect the “low density nature of much of the area…and help prevent development that is not in character.”

In 2010, Community Board Chair Joseph Conley said that community itself had initiated the request for rezoning.

“After the fires destroyed Butcher Block, Bloom’s and the Dae Dong Restaurant on Queens Boulevard,” Conley explained, “we learned that the 1961 zoning laws allowed more rebuilding latitude than we thought and we needed to rezone to protect the area before it was too late.”

The rezoning process, conducted by John Young and his team of the Queens Office of the Department of City Planning, got high marks. Rebecca  Barker, President of Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, said, “John Young and his associates made themselves available, distributed detailed material,  and accepted local input in a meaningful way.”

Former Chamber President Ira Greenberg, now Chairman of the Board,  is credited with formally suggesting inclusion in the zoning for small sidewalk cafés on Skillman Avenue. Barker adds, “Ira’s brainstorm will help Skillman continue to advance as a pleasant destination.”

Lily Gavin, on the boards of both the Chamber of Commerce and  Sunnyside Shines/BID, the property owners association which is primarily charged with Queens Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue commercial strips, noted, “The community worked together on this. Taller buildings won’t suit everyone, but growth is already here and better that we all had to agree on the scope and exact areas for that growth for the future, and protect non-commercial areas. We thank Jimmy Van Bramer for his work.”

The community’s historically-inclined members, such as Jeffrey Kroessler and Laura Heim, monitored the process closely in public forums as related to the historic Mathews Model Flats, Sunnyside Yards and Sunnyside Gardens.

Others were worried that the inclusion of more housing would put a further strain on Sunnyside and Woodside’s infrastructure. “Can this area handle any more people and growth?” asks Vincent DeMartino of Woodside. DeMartino adds, “The most important issue to most people here is the lack of open green space. We don’t need growth. I know we have little room, but we need parks.”

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we are overloaded with people and a blind eye is given to the thousands who are illegally occupying the cellars of two and three family houses. This is a strain on the Sanitation, Police and all other services – Parking is a nightmare with all these extra autos taking up space. When are the summonses being given to those who have rented their cellars. The Quallity of life in Sunnyside, Wooside and Laurel Hill has disappeared.


Angus Grieve-Smith

What’s wrong with twelve-story residential buildings? Yes, we need more school space and transit capacity, but that doesn’t mean we need to freeze the neighborhood in amber until we get it.


45th, your exactly right – i was surprised to find the discussion centering on the least relevant part of this plan. Funny how the QB 12-story factor is completely glossed over by the city and JVB. At least Gavin recognized it’s happening in her quote. More discussion is really needed on how the city will alleviate the strain this will add to our infrastructure.

45th and Skillman

This has been coming for months now.

Get ready for 12 story residential towers along Queens Boulevard with Big Box retailers on the ground floors.

This is a gigantic step backward for this neighborhood. PS 150 is at capacity already, and the 7 train at rush hour is worse and worse.

Sidewalk cafes on Skillman shouldn’t even be a part of this story. Who cares about that with a couple of thousand extra people straining the neighborhood.


Sunnyside South you are right: the infrastructure cannot take many more occupants. And yes, that includes the schools. Parts of Queens Boulevard are just plain ugly.


What I don’t get is, they lower the allowed height of existing R7 zones between queens blvd and 2 block inside on either sides (by turning them into R6), yet, they will allow taller commercial buildings on the blvd.


krissi, unfort you can’t legislate taste, and with 15-20 blocks of queens blvd now allowed buildings that are 12 stories or more there could be some big changes to the neighborhood views and skyline.

one look at the 7 train platform every morning shows how strained the area is already in terms of infrastructure. Does anyone think the city will come in and add capacity for things such as: schools, parks, parking, police, trash removal, trains, etc?


I love the sidewalk cafe on skillman that would really be fantstic way of dinning on skillman. make it a great eating destination.


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