Tag Archives: Department of City Planning

Community Board 11: Potential ferry good, just not here


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The city’s plans to push for ferry piers in metro waterfronts would not sail well with a local community board if the Bayside Marina is chosen as a landing site.

Community Board 11 voiced concerns against the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) proposed revisions to its Waterfront Revitalization Program (WRP), which includes plans to install ferry landings throughout the five boroughs.

District Manager Susan Seinfeld said the community board supports the citywide initiative for mass waterfront transportation, but felt the potential location of a ferry terminal at the Bayside Marina would have a negative impact on residents directly across the marina, as well as Little Neck Bay.

“This is all hypothetical because no one said there would be a ferry there,” Seinfeld said. “What [the community board] is saying is that if there was a proposal for a ferry there, that would be a problem.”

Seinfeld said Little Neck Bay waters are too shallow for ferries to safely travel through. There is also no place for vehicles to park at the Bayside Marina, she said.

“[The community board] did not believe that it was a logical place should anyone propose it,” Seinfeld said.

A DCP spokesperson said there is no ferry proposal for Little Neck Bay.

The WRP is the city’s key coastal zone management tool, establishing the city’s policies for development and waterfront use. A new, comprehensive waterfront plan was reissued by the DCP in early 2011 to lay out a 10 year blueprint of the future of the city’s waterfront, which includes creating and mapping a new designation to be called the “Priority Marine Activity Zone” to promote waterborne transportation such as piers for ferry landings.

Community Boards 2 and 8 voted to approve the proposed revisions during a June 28 public hearing held by Borough President Helen Marshall.

Rezoning will preserve character of Woodhaven, Richmond Hill


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Parts or all of 229 blocks in Woodhaven and south Richmond Hill will be rezoned, after the city council approved the divisive plans to preserve the character of the neighborhoods.

The new area, approved on Wednesday, July 25, is mainly bordered by Park Lane to the north; 103rd Avenue to the south; Eldert Lane to the west; and the Van Wyck Expressway to the east.

Residential zones R3-1 and R5 will remain in tact, according to the Department of City Planning. R3-1 is mostly north of Atlantic Avenue; R5 includes most of Atlantic and south of the avenue.

Jamaica and Atlantic avenues will be designated as commercial corridors, with the department citing easy accessibility to the streets via mass transit.

There had not been redistricting in the neighborhoods since the early 1960s, officials and residents said.

Community Board 9 had raised concerns years ago that one- and two-story homes were being bought and demolished, according to City Planning, and disproportionate buildings put up in their place.

“Hopefully it stabilizes the neighborhood,” said Andrea Crawford, chair of Community Board 9.

City Planning announced in late February that the department was reviewing the area in order to update the nearly 50-year-old map.

Commissioner Amanda M. Burden said in a statement earlier this year that rezoning would help adjust to the population and commercial growth Woodhaven and Richmond Hill have experienced over the years.

“The Woodhaven and Richmond Hill neighborhoods in Queens are characterized by very appealing one- and two-family wood-frame homes built in a variety of traditional styles,” Burden said. “The neighborhoods have seen their populations grow in recent years but due to antiquated zoning, they are experiencing growth in the wrong places.”

Local artists angry over plans for 5Pointz


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo by Alex DiBlasi

Taggers armed with cans of spray paint who flocked to leave their mark on the paint-laden walls of graffiti mecca 5Pointz may soon be searching for another canvas.

The 200,000-square-foot Long Island City graffiti art exhibition space, home to over 350 multicolored murals, could soon be knocked down in favor of building two high-rise apartment complexes.

“We’ve been waiting for this sort of transformation,” said building owner David Wolkoff. “We saw it happening a long time ago because of its proximity to Manhattan. We knew that Long Island City was going to transform at some point and now it’s happening at a rapid pace.”

According to Wolkoff — whose family’s business has owned the 5Pointz property for 40 years – the new structure will include dual rental towers equaling approximately one-million-square-feet, outfitted with state-of-the-art amenities including a gymnasium, pool and media rooms. The structure, expected to be completed by 2016, will also boast retail space.

“We have a very good feeling about the project and the likelihood we’ll get the changes we’re looking for,” said Wolkoff. “Nothing is 100 percent certain. I think the neighborhood is very positive about the project. A project like mine will bring life to the area. I think Long Island City is ready for it.”

While Wolkoff believes the development will benefit the neighborhood, area artists are upset at the alterations.

“Now everyone wants to be in LIC and everyone who created it is going to be kicked out,” said local artist Carolina Penafiel. “Changes are good but when they change history it’s screwed up. Everyone new is coming and the old ones are leaving.”

Wolkoff claims the building plans include keeping walls in place where graffiti artists can continue their craft, as well as opening two 1,200-square-foot open art studios.

“There will at least be a link to what it was at one point,” said Wolkoff. “We love the art that’s on the walls and we want to continue that.”

5Pointz, which earned its name by bringing together the five boroughs of New York City, attracts aerosol artists from across the country as well as the Netherlands, Japan and Brazil. Hip-hop artists and singers — enamored by the site’s visual stimuli — including Doug E. Fresh, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Kaz, Mobb Deep and Joss Stone, found creative ignition inside the abandoned factory.

According to a representative from the Department of City Planning, an application to demolish and rebuild at the current 5Pointz location has yet to be submitted.

Resisting rezoning Richmond Hill


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Ed Wendell.

While some local leaders laud the city’s plan to rezone Richmond Hill and Woodhaven, one local business organization said it would negatively impact and cap the growth of the community.

According to a spokesperson for the Department of City Planning, plans to rezone stem from concerns raised by Community Board 9, local civic organizations and area elected officials who say that existing zoning — which has remained unchanged since 1961 — does not closely reflect established building patterns or guide new development to appropriate locations.

Therefore, the Department of City Planning is looking to rezone 231 blocks of Richmond Hill and Woodhaven to reinforce the predominant one- and two-family homes that are characteristic of the community, while redirecting new residential and mixed-use development opportunities to locations along the area’s main commercial corridors near mass transit resources.

“The whole idea of rezoning is to keep neighborhoods stable, safe and healthy,” said Andrea Crawford, chair of Community Board 9. “It’s about maintaining the character of the neighborhood. If you start to tear down the single family and two family homes to put up larger, multiple dwellings, the infrastructure can’t support it, and the school system can’t support it. It makes the area so overly-dense that the neighborhood spills out onto itself. It explodes at the seams.”

The plan also deters expansion in a neighborhood that already struggles with lack of space and overcrowding, said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA).

“Through a residential point of view, expansion takes away parking, and it cripples our services, crowds our schools, and creates more garbage and noise,” he said. “You do not want areas currently zoned for two-family homes to suddenly spring up with large apartment buildings. That’s a no-brainer.”

Wendell said many of the neighborhood’s problems frequently get tied back to overcrowding, including increased noise, fights, garbage and lack of parking.

“We are absolutely in favor of anything that would help cut down on overcrowding,” he said.

Still, Vishnu Mahadeo, president of the Richmond Hill Economic Development Council, said the plan would limit the capacity to build in the neighborhood — subsequently keeping families from growing.

“The community keeps expanding,” he said. “How can you reduce the capacity of the community? The community board needs to review the census data and make it relevant to the zoning.”

Mahadeo said he has a petition with over 2,000 signatures from residents who do not want to be “down-zoned.”

But Crawford said “it’s not down-zoning anything.”

“It’s zoning to correct the neighborhood,” she said, adding that the majority of people against the plan are landlords looking to tear down homes to put up large apartment complexes. “There are many people who live here and support it. They bought into a neighborhood, and they wanted a specific style of the neighborhood. We’re not saying don’t allow for larger structures. We’re saying it has to be sensible, and this does reflect what is necessary and what is allowable.”

The Department of City Planning is currently conducting community outreach meetings on a proposal prior to initiating the formal public review process, which can take up to seven months. The city agency will speak to residents on January 21 at WRBA’s monthly meeting.