Developer’s Plan to Build 17-Story Building by 52nd Street Subway Station Gets Pushback
Sept. 27, 2019 By Christian Murray
A 17-story, 90-unit apartment complex is planned to go up on Roosevelt Avenue and members of Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee oppose it—saying the building would be out of character with the area and put additional pressure on nearby infrastructure.
The developer, Peng Li of HW LIC One LLC., plans to build two structures on the corner of 51st Street and Roosevelt Avenue—with one being a 17-story mixed-use building and another a four-story school building.
The development is slated to go where the blue-colored J & Sons Supply building once stood, flush against the elevated 7 line. The building was recently demolished.
Li needs the Board of Standards & Appeals to grant him a special permit before he can move forward with the project. The site is located in the flight path of LaGuardia Airport and the proposed building is 190 feet tall—exceeding the permitted height in the flight path by 50 feet.
The community board gets to weigh in on Li’s application with a non-binding recommendation.
The 17-story building would be located on the eastern portion of the site and would include commercial space on the ground floor, recreational and mechanical space on the second floor, with the remaining floors consisting of residential units.
The four-story school would be on the western section of the site. Li is in talks with an operator of a private school, although the negotiations are on hold until the BSA renders its decision.
The development meets all City Planning zoning requirements—in terms of height, bulk and property use. The only area where it does not comply is in terms of the flight path.
However, Li has received a declaration from the Federal Aviation Administration saying the building would not pose a danger.
Members acknowledged that given the FAA’s declaration and the fact that the plans comply with city zoning, it was very unlikely that their opinion would matter. Furthermore, the BSA has a long history of approving applications, despite the objections of community boards.
The board’s biggest concern dealt with the height of the building, which conformed with city planning in any case.
“This is a very tall building for that corridor and that is why we are pushing back,” said Lisa Deller, chair of the Land Use Committee, during Wednesday’s committee meeting. “I am sure that if you go to the Community Board meeting [Oct. 3] there will be a number of people who will testify saying that it is too big for our neighborhood.”
The committee asked the development team why they didn’t come up with a shorter, more-compact building. The members noted that the area consists of three to six story buildings.
The architect, Wilson Chao of Studio C Architects in College Point, said that they designed a 17 story structure in order to maximize the amount of square footage permitted by City Planning. They could not yield, he said, the same square footage with a shorter building and comply with zoning code.
The committee members were unsure whether their recommendation would carry much weight since their concerns had nothing to do with the building’s impact on the LaGuardia Airport flight path.
“They are asking for a special permit and we have the ability to say we don’t want it for what ever reason,” said Stephen Cooper, a committee member. “It is a recommendation back to the city and they can ignore it or accept it. We will most likely be overruled but we can do it.”
The committee unanimously rejected the application and their decision is likely to guide the full board’s vote on Oct. 3.
The public will be able to able to weigh in on the application at the Oct. 3 meeting prior to the vote.
The recommendation will then be sent to the BSA, which will then make a ruling.
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