Jamaica Plan Passes City Council Zoning Committee

From the New York Times

August 23, 2007
Council Committee Backs Rezoning Plan to Turn Jamaica Into an ‘Airport Village’

A plan to transform downtown Jamaica, Queens, into a vibrant “airport village” while preserving the quiet, low-scale character of neighboring side streets cleared an important City Council committee yesterday, all but ensuring final approval next month for the single largest rezoning of the Bloomberg administration.

Covering a 368-block area that sweeps northeast from the AirTrain transit hub, the rezoning would expand the neighborhood’s commercial core by allowing hotels and office towers to rise on underused industrial land surrounding the train station, officials said. At the same time, it would encourage new, denser housing and retail development in some areas and limit residences to one- and two-family homes in others.

“We’ve all been aware for so long of the potential of Jamaica,” Daniel L. Doctoroff, deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding, said of the plan, intended to create a regional business center minutes from Kennedy International Airport. “You go to cities around the country and around the world and they’ve got major commercial centers near their airports. We don’t have anything like that.”

The rezoning would also bring six- to seven-story apartment buildings with street-level retail to a sleepy stretch of Hillside Avenue from 146th Street to 178th Street. Officials had originally sought to allow 12-story apartment buildings there but, facing stiff opposition from community advocates, agreed in negotiations with the City Council to the lower height.

At the same time, the plan caps development in areas near Hollis and St. Albans, where leafy, low-roofed sections were being overrun by out-of-scale developments, said Leroy G. Comrie, a city councilman who represents the area. “People were tearing down one- and two-family homes and building eight-unit attached condos and overtaxing the infrastructure,” he said. “We needed to have some stability.”

The new zoning would largely restrict construction to one- and two-family homes in two main sections, one roughly bounded by Hillside Avenue, Jamaica Avenue, 172nd and 189th Streets and the other south of Liberty Avenue between Merrick Boulevard and 180th Street.

Posted Under: Downzoning, Jamaica, Planning, Queens, Upzoning

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