June 8, 2018 By Christian Murray
Community Board 2 voted Thursday to reject a developer’s bid to be granted a zoning variance in order to build a two-tower, 561-unit development along Queens Boulevard in Woodside.
The rejection represents another blow for the developer, Madison Realty Capital, in its quest to get a zoning change that would permit two buildings—one 17 stories and the other 14 stories–to rise at 69-02 Queens Boulevard.
The board vote, while advisory, follows Council Member Robert Holden’s announcement last month that he is opposed to the rezoning. The property is in Holden’s council district and his opinion will have enormous influence when the proposal is up for a vote in the city council.
Madison, under the existing zoning, is able to build a 12 story building that would consist of 289 units, 58 of which could be affordable.
The company, however, is looking to build much higher and obtain the right to build 561 units. In exchange, 30 percent of the units—or 168 apartments- would be affordable, meeting the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) zoning rules. Those rules require developers to construct between 25 and 30 percent of their units as “affordable” when a rezoning takes place.
Madison argues that there is a shortage of affordable housing in Queens and that the city should take advantage of its plan to bring workforce housing to the borough.
“There is a well-recognized need for affordable housing in New York City,” the company said in a statement. “We have the opportunity to provide 168 newly constructed, well-located affordable units in our Woodside project if the requested zoning change is granted… It would be a mistake to build fewer affordable units where there is an opportunity to build more.”
The board rejected the plan arguing that this stretch of Queens Boulevard was upzoned in 2006 and that a variance permitting an even bigger development would set a bad precedent. Many residents remain—as well as Holden—critical of the 2006 upzoning, which opened the door for large-scale development.
The plan has been panned by many residents who argue that the development would add to school overcrowding and cause traffic problems along the boulevard.
The proposal, as part of the lengthy public review process, will now go on to be reviewed by the Queens Borough President, City Planning Commission and the City Council.
The plan is unlikely to be approved by the city council, since it is custom for council members to vote in lockstep with the representative of the district where a development is proposed.