Feb. 22, 2016 By Christian Murray
A hotel is likely to go up at 32-45 Queens Blvd. significantly higher than zoning permits, due to a planned deal with the adjacent YMCA.
The hotel will be constructed on a 10,000-square-foot lot, which would ordinarily permit only 20,000 square feet of building space for a hotel. When interviewed by the Sunnyside Post in December, developers said plans were only for a 12-story hotel.
However, the YMCA, located on a 40,000-square-foot property at 32-23 Queens Blvd., plans to merge its zoning lot with the adjacent hotel site.
This maneuver would allow the hotel to stand 17 stories as of right – or 100,000 square feet of building space – according to Jessica Rubenstein, an attorney with Eric Palatnik, representing the YMCA.
Rubinstein also said that the YMCA could transfer its air rights to the hotel, which could bring the total building space up to 140,000 square feet.
The YMCA was granted a zoning variance in the 1990s to open this Queens Boulevard location in the middle of a manufacturing/hotel zone.
Therefore, in order for its deal with the hotel developers to go through, the YMCA needs approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals to modify that variance.
Neither Rubenstein nor the BSA were able to explain exactly how the air rights transfer would work in conjunction with the zoning lots merger.
As part of the BSA process, Community Board 2 gets to weigh in.
At last Wednesday’s CB 2 Land Use Committee Meeting, Chair Lisa Deller said:
“I don’t see what rationale we can have to approve this. I can’t see any benefit to the community.”
Another board member said the YMCA’s decision to sell the air rights was “sleazy,” arguing that the YMCA had taken advantage of the good deed the community had granted it in the past.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who spoke about the proposed development today, was not impressed by the entire process.
“When builders seek approval through the BSA, the community is far too often left out,” Van Bramer said.
“This process goes around community and elected leaders and frequently results in developments that are wildly out of character in our neighborhoods. While I fully support the Long Island City YMCA, I simply can’t endorse a 17-story tower on this stretch of Queens Boulevard.”
Van Bramer said he has introduced a package of bills that aim to reform the BSA and make the process more open and responsive to our communities.