Posted Jan 16, 2015, 3:25 PM
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Setting Sights on More High-Rises in Long Island City
City Hall Looks at Zoning Change, but Some Residents, Community Leaders Are Wary
By LAURA KUSISTO
Jan. 15, 2015
It may be hard to believe given the amount of construction in recent years, but more cranes could be on their way to Long Island City.
City Hall is targeting the Queens neighborhood along the East River and just north of the Long Island Expressway for a possible rezoning that would promote the construction around Queens Plaza of more high-rise apartment buildings, including ones with lower rents.
In 2001, the city rezoned 34 blocks of Long Island City between Queens Plaza and Court Square to spur residential high-rises while looking to maintain a mix of manufacturing and commercial space.
Since 2006, more than 8,000 units have been built in the neighborhood, and nearly 20,000 are under construction, according to the Long Island City Partnership, a nonprofit local development corporation.
But in the eyes of some residents and community leaders, the changes have created an enclave of shiny towers that looks more native to Miami than New York City.
Median rents in northwestern Queens rose 5.9% to more than $2,800 a month in the past year alone, according to a report released Thursday by Miller Samuel Inc. and Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
“At the beginning people really wanted to see development, but that’s going back 25 or 30 years. But now that development is exploding that’s a different story. I think we really need to step back,” said Lisa Deller, chairwoman of the local Community Board 2 land-use committee.
The community board asked the planning department to study adding more density to the neighborhood, with the understanding that the department would also review issues such as schools and transportation.
The Department of City Planning is starting a study of an approximately 100-block area that includes the Queens Plaza and Court Square neighborhoods as well as adjacent sections of Jackson Avenue, Northern Boulevard, and Queens Plaza.
John Young, director of the Queens office of the city planning department, said that in addition to promoting housing for people with a range of incomes, it would look “to support the mixed-use character of the area and create opportunities for new businesses and jobs to grow here, especially those in the creative arts and tech industry sectors.”
Long Island City is one of 15 neighborhoods that New York City is looking to rezone, in part to require that additional affordable apartments be built.
The plans to encourage more high-rise development have the support of City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the area. Mr. Van Bramer said he also wanted to ensure that development is accompanied by improvements to schools, transportation, space for technology companies and affordable housing for artists.
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