Tag Archives: Department of City Planning

Community board approves Silvercup Studios expansion permits


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners LLP

The delayed Silvercup Studios expansion made the cut at the community board level, and is moving to an audition with the Department of City Planning.

Community Board 2 voted almost unanimously to grant approval of special permits for Silvercup West, the planned $1 billion expansion of the Long Island City film studio and mixed-use development just south of the Queensboro Bridge, although it made some recommendations.

The permits, which include one for a 1,400-space off-street parking garage and another for a Silvercup sign on the waterfront, were approved in 2006, and renewed in 2011.

When the plan first debuted about eight years ago, developers agreed to set aside 10 percent of the proposed 1,000 residential units for affordable housing, but the board now recommends at least 20 percent. It is also urging developers to use original and not modern materials when constructing the Silvercup sign to preserve the historic nature.

The project also includes eight new soundstage studios as a part of a larger 2.2 million-square-foot complex containing an office tower, retail space, a catering hall and cultural space.

The community board, the borough president, City Planning and the City Council all gave their blessings for the land use case of the project in 2006, and it was supposed to be completed by 2010, according to published reports.

However, the project is being held up by New York Power Authority (NYPA) generators sitting on three acres of land on the site, which have to be decommissioned and removed.

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Leaders pushing to save Flushing row houses


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Flushing leaders don’t want developers to make themselves at home in some parts of the neighborhood.

Politicians and civic representatives are still pushing for a way to save row houses, after yet another residence on 56th Road was gobbled up by a developer, who has already begun to expand it from a single-family residence to a multi-family home.

While it’s not illegal or a violation of zoning regulations, neighbors are worried that the expansions will put an end to the classic single-family row houses, which have shaped the neighborhood since the 1930s. They also believe that expanding the row houses will create overdevelopment in the middle class community and lead to quality of life issues, such as traffic congestion.

“We understand that houses get bigger, but we have to balance that with some respect for the people who live in these homes,” said Don Capalbi, president of the Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association. “If we allow this, there are row houses all over the borough and all over the city that are going to expand. Once developers see what they can do and the money that can be made, they are going to be swarming all over the borough looking for these homes.”

Richard Hellenbrecht, president of the community umbrella organization the Queens Civic Congress, urged the Department of City Planning in a letter earlier this year to create a new zoning classification that would help protect single-family row houses. Community Board 7, which oversees Flushing, sent a letter to the city agency as well, and received a response that suggests future discussions, but no promises.

“An examination of zoning uses pertaining to single-family row houses raises citywide policy concerns, and to date no consensus has been reached regarding the specific nature and locational appropriateness of such a potential new designation,” said City Planning Director Carl Weisbrod in a letter the board received on July 11. “We would certainly be open to discussing this issue with you in the future.”

Councilman Peter Koo, who represents Flushing, has requested a meeting for the end of August with City Planning to figure out a solution that could help save the row houses.

“My constituents deserve the best possible protections against overdevelopment in their neighborhoods, and I want to make sure no block is left behind,” Koo said. “I look forward to working with City Planning and all community stakeholders as this process moves forward.”

 

 

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New mixed-use residential structure to replace 80-year-old Bayside building


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Longtime Bayside firm Pilling Real Estate closed a big saleits own building.

After more than 30 years in the same Bayside office at 42-18 Bell Blvd., the firm packed up everything Monday, July 28, in preparation to move after owner Betty Pilling sold the building for $1.15 million in May, according to city records.

The new owner, Bell Realty, plans to transform the building, which was built in 1931 according to the Department of City Planning, into a three-story mixed-use residential and commercial structure.

“There is a lot more that you could get out of that land than what we were doing with it,” Pilling said. “It was just time.”

Despite the sale, the owner and brokers of Pilling Real Estate are not leaving Bayside. The company plans to merge with another local firm, yet to be announced.

Frances Lee Pilling founded the realty firm in 1953. She moved the business in 1981 to the building on Bell Boulevard, which was a farmhouse converted to office space, according to the younger Pilling.

The building will expand from two stories to three and will have four residential units, according to the Department of Buildings filings. It will be similar to the relatively new building next door, a four-story mixed-use residential and commercial building, where a new fried chicken restaurant plans to open on the first floor.

“I feel bad, because it was kind of a standout building,” Pilling said. But she added, “[Bell Realty] has wonderful plans. They are an extremely established firm. They are not a fly-by-night builder.”

 

 

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Community board votes on proposed Astoria Cove development


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering Courtesy STUDIO V Architecture

A local community board has told developers if they want to move forward with a proposed development on the Astoria waterfront, they had better pay attention to the board’s suggestions.

One week after Architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture presented the approximately 1.7-million-square-foot mixed-use development known as Astoria Cove to Community Board (CB) 1, board members voted against the proposal unless developers follow recommendations given by the board.

“We have put down in writing the recommendations that we think will help improve the situation there and will make the Astoria west area productive and really something to be proud of in our community district,” said Elizabeth Erion, assistant chair of CB1’s zoning and variance committee.

The four pages of conditions included an increase of affordable housing units from 20 percent to 35 percent dispersed throughout all five buildings of the site and be included in every construction phase; increase of parking spaces; priority of construction and permanent jobs given to local residents and youth; commercial space set aside for recreational and medical facilities; and the importance of the 456-seat public elementary school constructed at the site.

The proposed Astoria Cove by developers Alma Realty is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space.

Howard Weiss, attorney for Alma Realty, said his clients are happy the community board did not raise objections to the project and most of the conditions presented have already been changed. He said that developers will be submitting revisions to the proposal.

“[The community board] had some concerns and they expressed those concerns,” Weiss said. “But the important thing is that if you listen carefully to their vote they support the project itself.”

Although Weiss said developers are working with Department of City Planning to increase the number of affordable housing units, 35 percent would not be “realistic.”

“We are working with City Planning to increase the number of affordable units to what would be a realistically and economically viable affordable housing density,” he said.

The Astoria Cove proposal will now head to the borough president and make its way to the City Council by the late fall.

 

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Community expresses concerns about Astoria Cove development


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings Courtesy STUDIO V Architecture

The process to bring an approximately 1.7-million-square-foot mixed-use development to the Astoria waterfront got off to a bumpy start as developers presented their proposal to the local community board.

Architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture presented the proposed development known as Astoria Cove to Community Board (CB) 1 Tuesday night as the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) for the project.

“Today this waterfront is not accessible,” Valgora said. “It’s really not an amenity or asset for the community and we would like to tie that back in and create a wonderful extension to the community.”

The proposed Astoria Cove by developers Alma Realty is expected to consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building and 456-seat public elementary school.

The project, which is expected to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, featuring a waterfront esplanade, children’s playground for various ages and streetscape design through the site.

“We think it’s just going to bring life and activity to this neighborhood,” Valgora said.

However the project was met with concerns from community board members who brought up issues of safety, handicap accessibility, affordable housing, parking, a medical center at the site, and construction and permanent jobs.

Along with the board members, more than 50 people signed up to speak on the project including members of Build Up NYC, an alliance of construction and building service workers. The alliance called on the community board to recommend Alma Realty ensure good and safe jobs with fair wages and benefits, protect workers and the community by removing asbestos and other toxins, create opportunities for local residents and much more.

“Alma Realty has an opportunity to create good, safe jobs with priority hiring for local residents and opportunities for local businesses,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of Build Up NYC. “But they haven’t made a commitment to do so. We need good jobs and affordable housing to keep the middle class strong.”

One of the main concerns shared by speakers was the number of affordable housing units at Astoria Cove. The site is expected to have 295 affordable housing units throughout the entire site, down from initially reported 340 units.

“We might be middle class but we’re not idiots and we can see the writing on the wall; we are not wanted at Astoria Cove,” said Astoria resident Tyler Ocon. “The community board is the first line of defense now against these underhanded tactics. Without the originally promised affordable housing units and a guarantee that these units will remain forever affordable, this project will be the first gust of wind that ships Astoria’s middle and working class up the East River.”

Howard Weiss, attorney for Alma Realty, said developers are in talks with the Department of City Planning to increase the number of units but will not have the number in time for the community board’s decision.

Residents also said they are concerned the development would increase rents, pushing out those currently living in the community.

On the other end, some speakers expressed excitement on the idea of the economic benefits and opportunities of the development. Both Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and Brian McCabe, COO of New York Water Taxi, spoke on the possibility of a ferry terminal being located at the site.

After the last speaker took the podium, CB 1 Chair Vinicio Donato said the board’s land use committee would vote on the proposal the following week. If the board approves it, the proposal will head to the borough president and make its way to the City Council by the late fall.

“Remember, the key word is recommendation. We have no authority to force anyone to do anything,” Donato said.

 

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Ridgewood, Glendale could get new bike paths this summer


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Map courtesy Department of City Planning

The ongoing plans to add new bike lanes to Community Board 5 (CB 5) seem to be rolling along smoothly.

CB 5’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend proposed lanes in Ridgewood and Glendale, which could be implemented as early as this summer.

The proposal, which includes lanes in the Department of City Planning’s phase one plan, will now hinge on a full board vote in the CB 5 February meeting.

If the board approves the new bike paths, City Planning will begin implementing the lanes this summer. The agency will also continue to evaluate phase two, which would eventually add more bike paths and connect routes in Maspeth and Middle Village.

Phase one of the plans connect to the bike lanes in the Brooklyn network of paths.

One set flows parallel on Woodward and Onderdonk avenues from Flushing Avenue to Cooper Avenue. Another set runs on Harman and Himrod streets from Evergreen Avenue to Metropolitan Avenue.

Phase two contains an expansive network of lanes throughout the rest of CB 5. However, residents have complained about a proposed lane on Elliot Street through Mount Olivet Cemetery between 67th Street and Mount Olivet Crescent. The two-way street is so narrow it is already dangerous for car traffic.

 

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Ozone Park rezoning plans on the table


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The map in Ozone Park could soon be changing to allow the community to welcome new development and reinforce its “residential character.”

The Department of City Planning (DCP) proposed a rezoning of the neighborhood in response to the community’s concerns that the existing zoning doesn’t “closely reflect established building patters,” according to the DCP.

Community Boards 9 and 10, local civic organizations and elected officials were among those who voiced their concerns.

“Now more than ever, Ozone Park demands a smarter and more flexible blueprint that protects the character of the residential parts of the neighborhood and strengthens the commercial districts to stimulate economic development,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

The proposed rezoning area is bounded by Rockaway Boulevard, Atlantic Avenue and 101st Avenue to the north; the Van Wyck Expressway and Lefferts Boulevard to the east; the Belt Parkway to the south; and the Brooklyn borough line to the west.

Currently, the area consists of three residential zones which have been left unchanged since 1961. This existing zoning has allowed the development of three-to-four story, multi-family attached houses and apartment buildings.

DCP said this layout does not reflect the “scale and character” of the desired one-and-two family homes, both attached and separate, that are typically found within Ozone Park. Existing zoning additionally doesn’t distinguish the scale of buildings along most of the area’s commercial corridors and prohibits development of larger buildings.

The proposed rezoning is intended to “reinforce neighborhood character and established building patterns,” direct new housing opportunities, allow for a mix of uses to major corridors and prevent commercial encroachment into residential areas.

“As someone who was born and raised in Ozone Park, it will give me great pleasure to participate in the public review process and to vote on its final approval when it reaches the City Council,” Ulrich said.

Community Boards 9 and 10 are now reviewing the proposal, which will also be reviewed by the borough president and the borough board. It will then go to the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

 

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More bike lanes coming to western Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

The wheels are turning in the right direction for one community’s push to get more bike lanes.

At a recent Community Board (CB5) Transportation Committee meeting, the Department of City Planning (DCP) revealed a list of streets that could have bike lanes in place by early 2014.

The DCP is looking to add six potential new routes to the area and streets that are under consideration are Eliot Avenue, Juniper Boulevard South, Central Avenue, Cooper Avenue, Woodward Avenue, Onderdonk Avenue, 80th Street and 69th Street.

Currently, there are a few lanes in the district, which encompasses Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village and Glendale, but hardly any at all that connect the bike-friendly neighborhoods surrounding the district to the north in Sunnyside and Long Island City, and parts of northern Brooklyn.

Map courtesy of DOT

“If you look at the bike map right now there is a big hole where Community Board 5 is,” said Donald Passantino, a member of the CB 5 Transportation Committee and an avid bike rider. “Part of this is that these [lanes] are supposed to connect with other neighborhoods.”

The board requested new lanes throughout the community last year through the Department of Transportation (DOT). The request was then turned over to City Planning, which has been assessing streets that the community recommended for new bike lanes.

Now the DCP will review bike planning practices with the DOT and continue to analyze the most practical streets for lanes, and then in the coming weeks meet with the community again to get additional input, according to a DCP representative.

“The real advantage of bike lanes more than anything else is that they calm traffic,” Passantino said. “The [street] looks narrower, which forces cars to drive slower and cuts down on deaths.”

City Planning will meet with the community board members again this month to talk about potential lanes.

Community Board 5 Bike Lane Street Design Presentation

 

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Borough President Marshall OKs Willets West


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File rendering

Borough President Helen Marshall approved a special permit that would pave the way for a mega mall near Citi Field.

Marshall gave developers Sterling Equities and Related Companies the thumbs up on July 2 to move parking for Citi Field to Willets Point. The joint venture ultimately needed the permit to construct a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center west of the baseball stadium.

Community Board 7 gave its green light in May, but both the board and borough president had conditions for their endorsements.

They said the joint venture must keep surrounding communities and leaders informed of the project’s progress and traffic problems that arise.

The city and the facility’s developer must also fulfill written commitments they made, which include funding traffic mitigation measures, building a 1,000-seat K-8 public school, giving $1.87 million to the Willets Point

Infrastructure and Traffic Mitigation Fund and hiring locally.

Marshall said the $3 billion project would provide 7,100 permanent jobs and generate more than $310 million in tax revenue.

Among the speakers at Marshall’s June 6 public hearing, 20 people opposed the project and two others were in favor of it.

Community Board 3 voted 31-1 against the application on May 13.

The project awaits the Department of City Planning, which held a public hearing July 10 but did not make a recommendation as of press time.

The City Council is expected to meet August 21 to give the final vote.

 

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Community boards OK rezoning for East Elmhurst, Corona


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

locator_map

Proposed rezoning of parts of East Elmhurst and Corona seems to be on track, with approvals from both Community Boards (CB) 3 and 4.

The Department of City Planning received the go-ahead from the boards — a first step since Commissioner Amanda Burden’s June 3 announcement of the beginning of the official public review process of a 127-block rezoning of East Elmhurst and 14 block fronts along Roosevelt Avenue in Corona.

The objective of the rezoning is to protect the current character of East Elmhurst’s residential blocks, which are made up of one- and two-family detached, semi-detached and attached homes.

“This rezoning, which was developed in close consultation with the community and local elected officials, will protect the cherished one- and two-family composition of this neighborhood,” said Burden.

The proposal also looks to update commercial overlays in order to reinforce the main commercial corridors, better reflect current land use trends and constrain commercial incursions onto residential streets. The rezoning will aim to strengthen the character of Astoria Boulevard and help it stand out from residential streets.

The 14 block fronts along Roosevelt Avenue that are included in the rezoning proposal will also help increase development in the area. For example it will allow the 82nd Street Partnership’s Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District to provide services for the merchants and community on the busy strip.

“Though currently zoned for residential use, we’re seeing increased commercial activity along the stretch of Roosevelt Avenue from Elmhurst Avenue to 114th Street,” said Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership.

“The rezoning pairs nicely with the proposed Jackson Heights- Corona BID, which would promote local economic growth and be a positive force for the entire commercial corridor.”

The rezoning proposal will now be reviewed by the Borough Board, Borough President, the City Planning Commission and then the City Council.

 

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Department of City Planning approves National Tennis Center expansions


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

The Department of City Planning approved expansions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Wednesday, May 22, pushing the project another step toward a final green light.

U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) officials want to expand the center’s campus in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park by 0.68 acres, build a new stadium and make renovations. The plan is headed to the City Council for the final vote on the project.

State Senators will not have to vote on the lost green space because the land in question is considered to be of little value.

Expansions at the Tennis Center have been met with opposition, as have two other projects involving the park. USTA was not originally required to give back any land lost in the project. But officials ultimately agreed to transfer ownership of two parcels of parkland USTA has been renting to the Parks Department.
Park advocates criticized the plan as giving back land that was already accessible to the public.

Western Queens to get more bike lanes


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Department of City Planning

Make way for the cyclists.

Residents and members of Community Board (CB) 5 have been brainstorming where to install bike lanes.
The Department of City Planning (DCP) met with CB 5 and residents of the neighborhood on Saturday, May 11.

“A lot of western Queens is tough for bike routes, but we’re going to try to do the best we can,” said CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano.

The industrial area already has accomodation for bikes in Highland Park, Cypress Hills Street, Cooper Avenue, 78th Avenue, 79th Street and Forest Park. DCP is planning to install bike lanes in both directions along the Cooper Avenue underpass from 69th Drive to 74th Street.

Community members at Saturday’s meeting mooted areas along Dry Harbor Road, 80th Street, Elliot Avenue, Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue. Some of those spots are major arteries congested with trucks, making it a challenge for CB 5 to accommodate bicyclists there. DCP is targeting areas where bikes will have minimal conflict with vehicles including trucks and cars.

With summer coming up and more people hopping into the saddle, Giordano said he hopes the community will have a better idea of where the bike lanes are going within a few months.

“You have more and more people riding bicycles these days,” he said.

Officials said the bike lanes are perfectly feasible and the routes will even be attractive. They added that lanes can be installed on both one- and two-way streets. They will either be shared lanes that put bicyclists on the road with vehicles or separate lanes to the side of the road.

For people going on longer rides, DCP and CB 5 are considering a connection from Grand Street to the Williamsburg Bridge in western Queens and a route from 62nd Road to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the east.

Now that the community has voiced its requests, DCP will study the feasibility of proposed routes and receive community board input. It will be up to the Department of Transportation to actually implement the routes. A timeline has not been established.

“We need to increasingly be concerned about the safety of the cyclists, the pedestrians and the drivers who have to look in all sorts of directions,” Giordano said.

 

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Approved Willets Point plan to go through rigorous review


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Redevelopment of Willets Point will now go through a rigorous review process after its study was approved by the Department of City Planning (DCP).

The plan, approved by DCP on Monday, March 18, will first go to Community Board 7, which includes Willets Point, for an advisory vote. Borough President Helen Marshall will then get the plan for her own recommendation, followed by the City Council and DCP.

Between development at Willets Point and the addition of the shopping mall dubbed “Willets West,” the mixed use area will include housing, retail, hotels and an entertainment center.

Jesse Masyr, the project’s lawyer, said he’s confident the various levels of voters will jump on board with the plan, citing the environmental clean up that’s first on the project’s steps.

“It is a very, very significant effort and accomplishment,” he said, adding it would “reverse 50 years of unsuccessful attempts” to stop pollution in the area.

If the City Council ultimately rezones the area, the joint venture, between Related Companies and Sterling Equities, would begin by cleaning up the 23 acres commonly called the Iron Triangle. New York City has dedicated $100 million to removing spoiled soil and creating an infrastructure at Willets; the rest of the project is privately financed.

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has pushed for the project since updated plans were announced last June — much to the chagrin of some Willets Point business owners.

“This marks a critical step towards beginning the long-needed cleanup of toxic land in Willets Point that for years has damaged the waterfront and been a blight on the community,” a NYCEDC spokesperson said.

Opponents, however, are not confident in a fair process.

Michael Rikon, the lawyer for Willets Point United, said the city would probably approve the rezoning, and the seven-month approval process was merely a formality at this point.

This didn’t stop Rikon, however, from saying there were reasons why the project should be fought — including building Willets West on what is mapped as parkland.

“The whole thing and the whole process is a shame,” he said. “There could be 15 great reasons why there should be a condemnation on the plan.”

 

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Local boards mixed on National Tennis Center expansion


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of USTA

BY TERENCE M. CULLEN AND MELISSA CHAN

Six community boards are lobbing back and forth on approving the proposed expansion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The boards surrounding the park are required to vote on the .68 acres lost in the U.S. Tennis Association’s (USTA) plan to expand in the park. Their recommendations, which are solely advisory, then go to the Borough President, the City Council and the Department of City Planning.

So far, two community boards have voted against the expansion, and one has opted in favor of it.

Community Board 9 voted 22-20 against the plan, with one abstention, after a lengthy debate at its March 13 meeting. Board member Alex Blenkinsopp said he thought many voted against it to send a message that parkland should not be given up for expansion.

“I believe the majority of Community Board 9 voted the way we did because we’re concerned about the future of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park,” he said. “This would have set a worrying precedent. That land, once surrendered, will never come back. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want the National Tennis Center to live within its current footprint.”

Community Board 4 also voted down the expansion. However, it said it would approve it if the USTA meets nine requests, according to District Manager Christian Cassagnol. Some of the resolutions call for better park security, a $15 million trust fund exclusively for the park, and a $500,000 per year maintenance fund that would be overseen by members of different community boards.

Community Board 7 voted 30-6 in favor of the expansion, but members also had nine conditions. The board asked the USTA to establish a $15 million capital endowment fund and an annual $300,000 expense fund for sole Flushing Meadows-Corona Park maintenance.

All damaged trees, they said, must also be replaced within the park, and there must be substantial discount programs for seniors and children living nearby.

Community Board 7 also insisted National Anthem tryouts should be held in Queens. The USTA must also work with the Department of Parks to clean and maintain the property and mitigate traffic concerns.

“The reason why we voted [yes with conditions] is because we found out that even if they didn’t want to take our conditions, they came back to the table to talk to us,” said Community Board 7 Chair Eugene Kelty. “They had a meeting in our office. They asked us if they could come in and explain what was happening after the fact. They didn’t have to, but they did.”

Community Boards 3, 6 and 8 were scheduled to vote after The Courier went to press.

 

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Amendment to bring sidewalk cafes back to LIC


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Consumer Affairs

Once hampered by noise complaints and numerous tickets, Manducatis Rustica owner Gianna Cerbone-Teoli is looking forward to resurrecting her Vernon Boulevard establishment’s sidewalk café.

“I’m ecstatic about it,” said Cerbone-Teoli. “It’s really nice to see people sitting outside on the street and it brings more people to the area.”

Presented at a community meeting by a representative from the Department of City Planning (DCP), restrictions preventing sidewalk cafes in Long Island City and Sunnyside Gardens will be lifted, pending approval from both the local Community Board and City Council.

Main and upcoming retail zones, including Vernon Boulevard, Borden Avenue, Jackson Avenue, 21st Street, Crescent Street, 44th Drive, Court Square and 43rd Avenue, will receive permission to add unenclosed sidewalk cafes to their storefronts if the amendment passes. According to the representative, longstanding LIC restaurant Waterfront Crab House was “grandfathered” under the arrangement. Riverview restaurant, already equipped with a sidewalk café, is not included in the plan because of its location on Center Boulevard, outside the designated zone.

Community Board 1 voted to approve the motion as long as the amendment allowed enclosed sidewalk cafes for those with appropriate clearance in front of their business. Enclosed sidewalk cafes are currently not included under the revision.

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the fee for an unenclosed two-year sidewalk café license is $510 in addition to a consent fee to use the public sidewalk and a security deposit. Businesses hoping to institute an enclosed café must also pay a city planning fee, varying depending on size, zone and the type of café.
Alcohol may be served in sidewalk cafes if the restaurant has obtained a license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) and beverages are distributed only by a server.

According to Arthur Rosenfield, president of the Long Island City/Astoria Chamber of Commerce, nearby commercial strips in Astoria, such as Broadway, 30th Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard, have seen a boom in business since the installation of outdoor dining spaces.

“People like [sidewalk cafes] and the business and restaurants need to have that kind of additional presence for economic reasons,” said Rosenfield. “They need it for revenue and to be attractive – the European-style cafés are very attractive to people and they’re bringing people to the neighborhood. It’s very positive for the community.”

 

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