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Taller Buildings Could Come to Queens Blvd If Zoning Proposal is Adopted

Blue line indicates where xx feet upzoning will be permitted under proposal

Blue line indicates where an additional 2 stories could be built if proposal is adopted

Sept. 25, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge

A swath of Queens Boulevard could see taller buildings and reduced parking if a Department of City Planning proposal moves forward as written.

DCP is proposing two amendments to the City’s Zoning Resolution, which the agency believes will promote affordable housing and better quality buildings City-wide.

One proposed zoning amendment, called Zoning for Quality and Affordability, involves a slew of modifications to current zoning regulations that DCP considers outdated and restrictive.

The modifications that would impact most of Sunnyside and Woodside would involve building height and parking requirements.

Along Queens Boulevard, from 39th Street moving east, residences created through the City’s existing, optional inclusionary housing program could stretch and extra 20 feet, which would translate to two extra stories for below-market-rate housing.

The extra space would give developers more flexibility in design and make it easier to participate in inclusionary housing, therefore incentivizing the creation of affordable units, a DCP spokesperson said.

Similar tweaks to zoning law would incentivize affordable senior housing along Queens Boulevard, and stretching a few blocks north and south in the area east of Calvary Cemetery.

Developers who build affordable senior homes could build 10 or 20 feet higher than currently allowed, depending on zoning district. In a wider swath of the neighborhood, certain types of senior long term care facilities would also be allowed greater height and floor area.

DCP would also bring up the maximum height of standard residential buildings in much of the district by five feet. As described in DCP documents, this increase is intended to give builders more flexibility within existing zoning rules, to encourage new housing construction with more engaging architecture.

Community Board 2 chairman Pat O’Brien said he is concerned about encouraging added density in these neighborhoods.

“Some of the things that they’re doing, which are creating the opportunity for additional bulk and density in an area that’s so built out, are problematic for all the reasons that we’ve been speaking of for an awfully long time,” he said. “There is no infrastructure to support it.”

“[There is] the notion that even the people who are intended to benefit from these new developments would not benefit, because they would suffer from the same lack of infrastructure,” he added.

“I support building more affordable housing in our district, absolutely. But where and how are questions that have to be answered,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “We can’t have any more large scale development in my district without transportation infrastructure improvements, schools and parks.”

“Zoning for Quality and Affordability will address longstanding concerns about our zoning rules to help make the City more affordable to a wide range of New Yorkers, and foster diverse, livable communities with buildings that contribute to the character and quality of neighborhoods,” DCP chairman Carl Weisbrod said in a statement.

One zoning change that would affect a large portion of Sunnyside and Woodside would be the elimination of parking requirements at affordable housing and affordable senior housing.

DCP argues that in areas such as western Queens, where public transportation is available, low-income households own fewer cars and the off-street parking provided to them goes to waste.

By removing the requirement, DCP said, it will remove an unnecessary cost to affordable housing developers.

“Being in proximity to a train line doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the kind of transportation opportunity that you should,” O’Brien said in response to this proposal. “[In CB2], those train lines are so overcrowded.”

The elimination of the parking requirements generated significant skepticism from Queens’ Community Board chairs in April when it was presented to the Queens Borough Board.

DCP’s other proposed zoning amendment, called Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, would require that new developments of 10 units or more include 25 or 30 percent permanently affordable housing when a rezoning to increase housing capacity occurs.

Therefore, if a private developer built a residential tower in western Queens, and asked the City for a rezoning of the property to permit construction of more units, MIH would be triggered.

MIH will also be incorporated into City-planned neighborhood upzonings, such as DCP is preparing for Long Island City in the future.

The community board has 60 days to review DCP’s proposal.

O’Brien said that DCP will present its proposals to CB 2’s Land Use Committee in October, and it will be considered by the board throughout the public review period, which he called “very short” considering the issue’s complexity.

He will discuss the zoning text amendment’s before the full board at its October 1 meeting, per the CB 2 agenda.

“Our [job] is to make sure our district is getting City services and the right stuff,” he said.


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It’s “think outside the box” not out of the box. Out of the box thinking means using no creativity. Christ if you’re going to use some trite bullshit expression get it right. Don’t worry JVB will do whatever the “Wigwam” tells him to. Tammany lives.


Put a few billions on a new train line going frol La Guardia to 40th St and Queens Blvd to Greenpoint to Madison Square Park
Improve sewer systems
Put a park over the train tracks. And solar panels and windmills.
… Think out of the box and then we can develop Sunnyside. For now, Jimmy is right.


It’s too bad people like Van Bremer can’t actually negotiate deals for people in the neighborhood with all this construction. I’m not anti development but it really puts a strain on everything and there is little to no benefit of having overpriced rentals/condos and chains filling up the space. No parking and increased infrastructure are nice talking points but again there are much more immediate needs- increased green space, less bad architecture/bricks, a viable community center, etc.


And also, that school with the GIANT stupid clock that ruined the views for all of 43rd, 44th and 45th of downtown… that shouldn’t have been able to be that tall either. That clock constantly glowing is bizarre. Like… why?


Well someone has already bought up the corner on 44th where the bagel place is. I’m looking forward to a year + of construction noise making me cry. I am betting it will be a building like the CVS with store on the bottom and apts above. Also where the movie theatre and all that stuff is going to be developed. That’s why the landlord told the bar not to bother reopening after the fire. Let me tell you, if the real estate Gods can convince people the 7 is the best train… don’t bother protesting. It’s over


Van Bramer is right to point out that the city’s willingness to approve more construction without committing to transit infrastructure improvements is out of step with reality. However cutting parking requirements in itself a step in the right direction. The city does not need more car owners, it needs fewer vehicles on the road and better public transportation. No new construction within a fifteen minute walk of a subway station should mandatorily include a parking lot.


The biggest problem with new NYC mixed use development is the tax credits which are given to residential developments but not available for commercial enterprises. In the end the “affordable housing” promised ends up being 2700/month one bedrooms and only chain businesses can afford the astronomical rents. Of course this will get passed as the real estate lobby is so powerful in NYC now, and there is noone to stop it as all the politicians are bought and paid for.
What about a goddam park instead of more starbucks and condos?


Totally agree:

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “We can’t have any more large scale development in my district without transportation infrastructure improvements, schools and parks.” Since I don’t have a private helicopter and landing pad and I send my kids to public schools, infrastructure is an overcrowded mess at current population levels.


Manhattan is 5 minutes away from Sunnyside. Nobody here lives in the happy Leave it to Beaver suburbs – you live 5 minutes from the densest urban area in the country. That makes Sunnyside one of the single most logical places for further urban development. If you have a fear of tall buildings, consider moving hmm, I dunno…literally anywhere else in the entire country?

There’s some inevitability to this – there’s a ton of money to be made – and there’s a ton of money to be made precisely because there’s not enough housing in NYC because cranky old people make it so hard to build anything.

That situation isn’t going anywhere, even if this particular zoning proposal crashes and burns, there will be towers here one day, there will be development over Sunnyside Yards.



Maybe Manhattan is 5 minutes away from Sunnyside when you take your helicopter, but for the rest of us mere mortals, it is quite a bit further. Maybe we moved here to escape the big box stores and glass buildings. If I wanted to live in Manhattan, I would be renting someone’s windowless pantry.


Google maps puts a taxi trip from Sunnyside to the bridge at 9 minutes right now. Obviously these things depend on traffic and whatever but that’s missing the point – Sunnyside is one of the closest areas to Manhattan in greater NYC. That doesn’t change if your commute took an hour this morning because of subway problems, it’s just something that is objectively true. And because it is true people want to live here and even more will want to live here in the future. Parts of the borough that were developed in the 1930s might not be sufficient for a growing metropolis in the year 2030 – who woulda thought?

The O.S.

This would have never been accepted 60 years ago! I remember when there was nothing but chicken coops along queens blvd as far as the eye could see. Mixed in with the occasional swill stand. Ahhh the good ol days. Nothing beats a fresh egg, nothing!


It’s obvious how you line your pockets. Well, go somewhere else. Develop something that actually needs developing. Better yet, since you sincerely want to serve the humanity along Queens Blvd., get busy fixing the situation with the trains! Now there is where we need development!

Jimmy Van wiggles

Funny how Pat O Brien is the big mouth authority how come his buddy Joe Conley isn’t talking about anything these days???
And JVB trying to sound like a tough guy too riding the coat tails of whoever he thinks sounds like the head of the class senior.
All a bunch of jokes.

Del Toro

What is that about parking again?
As for other stuff, they really need to let people fix the crappy “sunnyside gardens historical district” any way they want because they are all falling apart and houses look like crap on that side. You guys call that preservation? Check the houses, they are almost all decaying and there is no appeal other than big tall trees that drop huge ass branches on top of cars…


We can not afford to jam more people in this part of the world without a major, major review of infrastructure. Someone–Bloomberg &Co.?–put the cart before the horse a while back and it is time to straighten things out. Greed is out of favor now.

Pope Francis said so.


i think most people who get affordable housing can’t afford a car either…so no loss there

Rocky Balboa

Terrible idea. Stop these developers. There is no such thing as “affordable housing” to begin with. The 7 train is already packed. There are not enough stores and the decent stores manage to close after a few years.

Kramden's Delicious Marshall

Enough of this overdevelopment. No more ugly, glass boxes.

It’s obvious our elected officials are nothing but lapdogs of the real-estate interests.


were you expecting quality of life in a city that for its entire existence never had any? don’t wake up now…you’re in for quite a shock. buy property or two, wait/work 10 years and sell it for 10 times more and move out. literally any other place outside of this city has a better quality of life.

Joe at the Berkley

A Bundy are you for real? Quality of life in most neighborhoods of NYC is considered the benchmark in most of this country and the world. Neighborhoods like Douglaston, Douglas Manor, Bayside, Whitestone, Malba, Little Neck, Forest Hills Gardens, Park Slope, Todt Hill, Riverdale, Breezy Point, Battery Park…the list goes on and on. Do you ever get tired of posting such stupidity?

Anonymous visitor

Ah, most of them white, rich enclaves.
Ever lived outside of the US? Reconsider quality of life.

Dennis P Farley

I totally disagree. I’ve lived in Sunnyside most of my nearly 70 years. I like it here, I moved to PA, then NJ, and after 12 years of hating those places, I returned to Sunnyside, I like the diversity, and the neighborhood ambiance. I do not want to see it screwed up as has been many parts of Brooklyn, with ugly “Glass Towers”.

El loco

You are like a broken record playing a bad tune over and over. There has been very little development in Sunnyside. Get over it.


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