Rezoning proposal preserves tradition and promotes commercial development in Queens


| spreuss@queenscourier.com |

East Elmhurst and Corona residents are experiencing a zoning battle between preserving their residential development traditions and the growth of larger, untraditional housing and commercial encroachment in their neighborhood. Not since 1961 has the neighborhood experienced many changes in zoning. The NYC Department of City Planning has approved a proposal covering 127 blocks in East Elmhurst near LaGuardia Airport including Astoria Boulevard, and 14 blocks on Roosevelt Avenue in Corona, two main thoroughfares in Northern Queens. Its main objectives are to protect the one and two-family homes, to distinguish Astoria Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue as more commercial friendly, and to prevent commercial encroachment into residential area.

East Elmhurst has traditionally been home to middle-class and working-class families. Many of its inhabitants are immigrants making East Elmhurst one of the most diverse and vibrant parts of Queens. Like most neighborhoods in Queens, it is mostly comprised of one and two- family homes. However, as the neighborhood has continued to increase in population, so has the development of higher density properties such as multifamily townhouses, disrupting the feel of the neighborhood. In fact, the 5.4 percent increase in population growth from 2000 to 2010 is bound to continue progressively increasing, further boosting demand for multifamily properties. The rezoning proposal will help to alleviate this concern by lowering the maximum building height requirement in order to prevent multi-family building development.

Additionally, concerns have lingered on the commercial activity in both East Elmhurst and Corona. Local business owners on Astoria Boulevard have complained that the lack of services on the popular thoroughfare is decreasing the motivation of residents to shop there. Therefore, the community has come together to encourage commercial development on Astoria Boulevard in order to promote and revitalize local business activity on Astoria Boulevard. Likewise, Roosevelt Avenue in Corona, known as a prime location to exploit diverse food and merchandise, can also be better utilized to increase commercial activity. The rezoning proposal includes 14 blocks on Roosevelt Avenue that stretch from 90th Street to 114th Street.

We are expected to see an increase in mixed-use development on Astoria Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue, utilizing immense potential of commercial activity throughout the blocks. The community and many business owners expect this zoning change will attract both residents and sightseers, creating higher foot traffic, which would eventually increase the value of the properties. Moreover, not only would this be beneficiary to local business owners, but it would also create tremendous value for real estate undertakers who were waiting for promising opportunities in Queens.