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Sunnyside-Woodside Rezoning Close to Being a Reality

Proposed 2011 zoning map

April 13, 2011 By Christian Murray

Community Board 2, which represents residents in the Sunnyside/Woodside and LIC neighborhoods, voted last week in favor of the 130-block rezoning plan in Sunnyside and Woodside.

The vote represents a significant milestone toward the implementation of the rezoning plan – since it now only needs to be signed off by the Queens Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council. These steps are expected to be a formality, with the new plan expected to go into effect within the next six months.

The proposal would bring the biggest change to Queens Blvd, where a significant “up-zoning” would take place—largely to accommodate new residential units. The proposed changes are expected to produce 249 housing units by 2019, including 74 affordable apartments.

In the past year, many members of the public have expressed concern that the influx of residents would overwhelm the already crowded classrooms. Furthermore, they have voiced their concern that the police, fire and emergency services would struggle to handle more residents.

Under the plan, developers would be able to construct buildings on Queens Blvd. between 39th and 44th Streets up to 3.75 times the size of the lot, or up to 5 times the site area if affordable housing is built. Currently, between 39th and 41st, developers can only build a structure 1.25 times the site area. Meanwhile, between 41st and 44th streets, the existing formula is 3.44 times the site area.

The new plan does place a maximum height limit of 125 feet along Queens Blvd.; that limit which would equate to about 8 to 10 stories.

The new plan would allow builders to develop structures further up on Queens Blvd between 44th and 50th streets up to 5 times the site area. Currently, developers are able to build 3.4 times the zoning lot size, which increases to 4.8 times in the unlikely event a community center is built.

The plan would allow small, sidewalk cafes along Queens Blvd between 39th and 48th Streets.

Residential Neighborhoods

The plan aims to put height limits on residential streets to ensure their uniformity. This is particularly the case on blocks where there are one-, two- and three-family attached and semi-detached homes. The plan would establish height limits of 33 to 44 feet on these streets, and ensure that development is consistent with existing homes.

Along blocks with taller apartment buildings, the plan would limit buildings to a height of 70 to 80 feet to ensure that future developments match existing buildings.

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37 Comments

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Maria

Well as long as lifelong residents, who happen to all agree, join together, hopefully we can keep this monster under control.

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Maria

As a native Sunnyside resident, I think this is awful. Sunnyside is not LIC and we do not want it to be!

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Lucky Lu

It’s funny that you believe congestion pricing will be beneficial for Sunnyside in any way. Did you actually read the plan? I did. There was virtually no allowance for Sunnyside residents to get a priority on parking. There was no mention of a new subway line for Queens, even though somehow the MTA saw fit to put yet a second subway line down 2nd Ave in Manhattan. Congestion pricing = EVEN MORE cars cruising Sunnyside to snatch up the spots. I don’t own a car myself, but I’m sick and tired of nearly being run over by cars rushing to beat some other car to the sinle open parking spot, cars double parking (i.e. camping out) on Queens Blvd waiting for someone to move, and negatively affecting the flow of traffic in the meanwhile. Not to mention the ADDED pollution congestion pricing will bring to Sunnyside. More cars cruising + more cars “camping out” = more car exhaust for Sunnyside residents to breathe (and wasn’t cleaning up the air for children and reducing asthma rates one of Bloomberg’s slogans for congestion pricing?).

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Bliss & Skillman

>>>>> scratches head

“249 housing units by 2019, including 74 affordable apartments.” … so 175 of them will be UNaffordable??

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

I never said new glass towers excite me. All I’m saying is this does not shock me. And I’ve had to wait many many times for the 7 train to come before I could get on one that wasnt a sardine tin. But all your complaints are on par with complainig about water for being wet.

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sartke

I agree that new subway lines should be one of the most pressing issues for Queens, but as of now, the MTA is extremely underfunded and has to find ways to pay for current service. (Such as congestion pricing.) But the subway lines that would be the most logical ‘next steps’ are not things that would be particularly beneficial to this neighborhood – expanding the 7 further into Flushing, expanding a line down Northern Boulevard, expanding the N to LaGuardia (etc.) That said, Sunnyside, despite relying on one line, is a neighborhood that’s pretty well served by our subway and bus system – even better than parts of Western Manhattan and much of Brooklyn. The 7 is already one of the most frequent trains in the NYC subway system and I somehow manage to take it multiple times a day without much difficulty. Sometimes I have to stand up – welcome to NY.

“cruise Sunnyside streets every weekday morning so they can park and squeeze their way on to the subway with the people who actually live here. ”

I totally agree on this point, Sunnyside shouldn’t be a parking lot for other neighborhoods. We can fix this problem by making it more difficult and expensive to park here.

“You’ll start wondering why it’s worth paying $2000 a month in rent for an apartment that now costs $1500 a month and then suddenly YOU will be the ones wanting to move to the ‘burbs.”

If you’re suddenly wondering why you have to pay $2000 for an apartment that now costs $1500, I am going to have to introduce you to a concept called “supply and demand.” The demand for housing, especially in a nice neighborhood like Sunnyside is only going to increase. Unless we are willing to grow supply at the same rate, Sunnyside *will* inevitably get very expensive and lose what is left of its middle class, as has already happened in Manhattan. Do we want Sunnyside to become the West Village? I suppose you do if you’re a property owner, but the majority of people who live here are not.

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Lucky Lu

Adding more people is a SERIOUS problem for Queens, and for this neighborhood in particular. We do not have the resources to support an increase in population. We are the most underserved borough in the entire city in terms of subway service. There are not enough public schools to handle the number of children already living in the neighborhood and many Queens residents from other neighborhoods cruise Sunnyside streets every weekday morning so they can park and squeeze their way on to the subway with the people who actually live here. Sartke and Queens Is the New Brooklyn, if you’re both *so excited* about this new development and it’s *inevitable* then why the holy **ll haven’t you been out there getting us increased and improved subway service. I can’t wait until you one day can’t even get on the bloody train because all of these great new residents living on the Blvd are taking up the space. You’ll start wondering why it’s worth paying $2000 a month in rent for an apartment that now costs $1500 a month and then suddenly YOU will be the ones wanting to move to the ‘burbs.

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SuperWittySmitty

I admit, I used to buy coffee at Baruir’s when I moved to this neighborhood in the 90’s but I started shopping at Fairways and now I buy my beans there. As someone who loves Sunnyside, I am reminded that these small businesses are the soul of our community and I need to get back to shopping locally. as long as there are pedestrians and shoppers on QB and GP ave, this community will survive.

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raquel

If high rise towers bring more congestion, crime, pollution and strain on local resources, yes it will!

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

high rise towers does not equal the downfall of Sunnyside

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nobody

zoning has nothing to do with “out of character” building. that’s a landmarking issue. but landmarking is reserved for the wealthiest, most elite and politically influential (manhattan) neighborhoods.

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allow_me_to_retort

@ queens is

I can’t subscribe to your gospel of apathy, just rolling over and keeping your mouth shut just because something is perceived as “inevitable.” If you see things taking place you don’t agree with and believe to be detrimental, how can you not speak out and do your best to influence things for the better? If you want to meekly bend forward, grab your ankles and let the powers that be have their way with you, that’s your decision.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

PS…with the exception of Sunnyside Gardens, is Sunnyside really that beautiful of a neighborhood? It’s no Upper West Side or Greenwich Village.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

I’d rather ugly glass high rises than gas stations, parking lots, fast food restaurants and industrial warehouses. Atleast these modern buildings are Eco-friendly and can provide store fronts for new businesses. Either way, it should not shock anybody that this is occurring in Sunnyside. It’s the next neighborhood outside of manhattan after LIC. Just wait until the Bronx is the new Queens.

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Patrick

You would think that gas stations would be the first to go due to rezoning, but you never know — this is Queens after all. But yes, I would be happy to see Wendy, McDonald’s, and the gas stations go bye bye first. They wreck the cityscape.

@sartke complaining about the city being overcrowded? why, that seems to be the Queens’ way (you must know all about the Queens Crap blog). Ultimately Sartke and supporters, you can argue about the merits of redevelopment, characterizing it as “oh well, it’s NYC, what do you expect?” But do you really want Sunnyside to look like this? I wouldn’t leave too much faith in the hands of developers, not here.

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PAL

There is one clear upside to development along Queens Boulevard, and that is the probable replacement of the gas stations and fast food restaurants along the south side of the street. That real estate is worth so much more than parking lots and one story Wendy’s franchises. It could, conceivably and in spite of hideous glass architecture and the inevitable Bank of America storefront(s), make that side of QB more of a livable and interesting stretch.

When Bloomberg rezoned 4th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the gas stations were the first to be sold to developers.

I would also really like to see a residential/mixed use neighborhood develop between the 33rd and 40th street stops. I’m not sure if that’s covered in this rezoning plan. It would be nice to be able to walk to Long Island City without wandering through an underutilized, bleak cityscape.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

Haha once again I couldn’t agree more with you Sartke

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sartke

Q-i-t-n-B – I feel like many people here probably already think that they live in the burbs. Perhaps the sharp contrast with Manhattan gives them that idea. Once upon a time Queens was the burbs! In 1920 – when things were apparently exactly the same as today – the entire borough had 469,042 people. (compared with Manhattan’s then 2.7 million) But today, Queens has many more people than Manhattan and the borough is denser than the second most dense city in the country (San Francisco). You might live in a small picture-esque neighborhood in a city, but you live in a city. Complaining about a city – particularly NYC – being overcrowded is like complaining about sugar for being sweet.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

These modern buildings will look and feel like the norm to an entire generation of 21st Century New Yorkers. Once again, if change scares you, move to a city like Cleveland, Boston, or St. Louis. New York is constantly transforming, it’s what makes the city fantastic. I’m sure the farmers who occupied Sunnyside would even scoff at Sunnyside Gardens. I agree that the new architecture is kind of plain and uninspiring. I prefer the architecture of an “older” New York, but sitting around and whining about the inevitablilty of things is just silly and pointless. Embrace change…or move to the sticks!

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raquel

Parts of Sunnyside/Woodside are overcrowded. Now it will be worse. As for Queensboro Plaza, I do not recommend hanging out there at night. There was a problem with gang infestation and prostitutes. I remember the bullet proof glass in the Twin Donuts! So much for “urban renewal”.

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allow_me_to_retort

Are there any architects out there who can build anything besides those horrid, vertical glass coffins?

Every new building I see constructed has the charm and warmth of a hypodermic needle.

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justin

Considering the inevitability of growth in New York City (whether this is good or not, it happens; people move here, they need to live somewhere), and the relative proximity of Sunnyside to Manhattan, I can live with upzoning Queens Boulevard (which is not exactly charming, small buildings or tall) if it’s paired with preserving the low-rise character of the rest of the neighborhood, which this plan does, as I read it. There’s nothing worse than a 20 story condo on a block that’s otherwise all two-family houses (see: most of gentrifying Brooklyn).

I agree that there should be some sort incentives put in place to allow long-time commercial tenants to stay in the same place if the building gets replaced. The fact that new development almost always results in chain store retail tenants is, to me, a much bigger problem than new development per se. Attractive architecture would of course be nice, too. But on the sum of it, increasing density along the major transportation and retail corridor is a fair tradeoff to preserve the charm of other parts of the ‘hood.

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allow_me_to_retort

If the cold, soulless, sterile high rises that are cropping up around Queensboro Plaza and blotting out the sky are a preview of what’s coming, heaven help us.

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Rocky Balboa

Sorry, folks: but the southside along 47th and 48th avenues has tons of building buildings and lots of problems with it. Queens Boulevard is not as nice as it used to be. What does Community Board 2 think it is doing? It is bad enough that we are so close to Northern Boulevard, which is nightmare.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

Yes Sunnyside Gardens looks like a village. However, Sunnyside Gardens does not encompass the majority of the area known as Sunnyside. Furthermore, residents of Sunnyside Gardens had the option to designate their section a historic landmark to protect their integrity from future development and their was an overwhelming backlash to this notion. Sunnyside isn’t a small scale neighborhood nor is this the early 20th century. It’s called evolution and this is simply inevitable. A hundred years from now Queens Blvd will look like 6th Ave or Houston Street or whatever.

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Patrick

@Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan No, big buildings don’t upset me, certainly not, except that they don’t belong in a small-scale neighborhood like Sunnyside — that’s for 6th Ave in Manhattan (or further down Queens Blvd near the mall). And actually, yes, Sunnyside is a quaint village — hence why Sunnyside Gardens looks like it does — whereas Queens Blvd beyond Sunnyside is like some unplanned hell on earth of urban nastiness. Sunnyside, not just Sunnyside Gardens, was planned in the ’20s, and redevelopment may well wreck what you like so much about the neighborhood.

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Queens is the new Brooklyn is the new Manhattan

I completely agree with Sartke. Do you people really lack so much foresight? Of course this was going to happen to Sunnyside. You don’t want to live in Manhattan? Big buildings in NYC upset you? Move to Long Island then. This is Queens, not some quaint village on the side of a mountain.

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raquel

What a lousy idea! Who would want to live directly on Queens Boulevard? It is not called the Boulevard of Death for no reason. We enough noise, congestion, etc. This will drive out small businesses. What does “affordable housing” mean? Another crime infested complex like the Mets Houses? What does Jimmy Van Bramer think of this?

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Lucky Lu

And adding more people to the neighborhood – yeah I don’t think the 7 train is nearly crowded enough. Do you?

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Lucky Lu

@sartke – sure those small businesses will be happy to hear that a new customer base is arriving. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to gain those new customers because by the time they arrive in Sunnyside, those small businesses will have been thrown out of their current locations and priced out of the new leases that will be jacked up to high heaven in any new bldg on Queens Blvd. Instead what we’ll get are businesses that can afford those high rents – i.e. giant corporations. So, instead of Baruir, expect more Dunkin’ Donuts, more corporate fast food joints. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get yet another overcrowded and dumpy Starbucks.

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Patrick

@sartke yep, that’s the ticket, force well established businesses on lovely blocks to move. What’s wrong with you? And have you seen what Queens Blvd on either end of Sunnyside looks like? The architecture is hideous, poorly planned. I don’t want to live in Manhattan — Sunnyside hasn’t changed much since it was built in the 1920s — harmony will surely be ruined if developers build up in the neighborhood.

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sartke

Zoning laws change because they are inherently arbitrary and political and political opinion and urban environments change over time. The laws were made democratically because people wanted them to be made, and they were changed democratically because people wanted them to be change. Zoning isn’t a moral code set in stone.

Allowing tall, dense buildings to be built in – *gasp* – New York City isn’t corruption, it’s a development strategy this city has followed with much success for more than 100 years.

Not that I want either torn down, but Baruir and Lowery’s aren’t places we cherish for their unique buildings – moving somewhere else on Queens Blvd wouldn’t be the end of the world. If I were in the gourmet coffee or liquor business I’d be pretty happy to hear that a huge new potential customer base was going to arrive in the neighborhood.

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allow_me_to_retort

What’s the point of zoning laws if they can be tossed aside at the whim of developers? The laws were made for a reason, is that reason no longer valid? The corruption in this city stinks to high heaven.

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Patrick

It’s a shame – the small scale of Sunnyside is what makes the neighborhood great. Will we see the buildings housing Baruir, Lowery’s and so on torn down, to be replaced by monstrosities? Many of you complain that landlords are kicking tenants out in bigger buildings to replace the structures (leaving them vacant), but the most successful businesses are located in one-story buildings, probably at greater risk for demolition.

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