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February 9, 2004

CONTACT: Rachaele Raynoff, Press Secretary -- (212) 720-3471


February 9, 2004 - City Planning Director Amanda M. Burden announced a new zoning proposal for promoting a dynamic mix of housing and light industry in the Hunters Point neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens. The proposal will complement developments in surrounding areas and enhance the distinctive characteristics and qualities of the neighborhood. The Hunters Point Subdistrict Rezoning proposal was certified today, beginning the public review process.

"Hunters Point is an important connector between the LIC business district and the developing East River waterfront neighborhood of Queens West. By eliminating complex limitations on residential uses in this pivotal location, the proposal will create opportunities for low and moderate density new residential and mixed-use developments that will blend into the neighborhood fabric and bring life and foot traffic to this unique, transit-rich, culturally vibrant neighborhood." said Ms. Burden, adding, "The mix of compatible uses will help create a more vital Hunters Point where people will want to live, work and shop – enhancing the adjacent regional business district and continuing the Administration’s commitment to create and preserve homes in New York’s neighborhoods."

The proposal is a fined-grained zoning strategy that recognizes the area’s mixed-use development traditions as well as its low and mid-rise built character. The 43-block area to be rezoned is between the Queens West Development along the East River and the Long Island City (LIC) core centered around Queens Plaza and Court Square. Over time, the neighborhood has experienced a shift from heavy manufacturing to semi-industrial uses and entrepreneurial activities including warehouses, contracting, and graphics and arts-related enterprises. The area and its surroundings are also home to a number of cultural institutions including P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center and the Sculpture Center.

The rezoning would encourage low rise residential and mixed uses with moderate densities along wider streets that are better served by mass transit and adjoining the LIC business district and Queens West. Light manufacturing and other uses permitted in the M1 zones would continue to be permitted as-of-right. The proposal would also encourage commercial uses such as art galleries and custom manufacturing businesses throughout the neighborhood and support the efforts of property owners seeking to upgrade and expand their existing buildings.

The rezoning responds to the evolving land use trends within the existing mixed-use subdistrict and also builds on some of the City’s most significant recent planning initiatives occurring in the adjacent LIC core and Queens West. In 2001, the rezoning of the LIC core began the effort to create a dynamic, high-density, mixed-use district in an area well-connected to Manhattan and the region by mass transit. The Queens West project is creating new residential, commercial, and recreational activities on underused waterfront land adjacent to Hunters Point, with the expectation of a groundbreaking this fall by the Rockrose Development Corporation on the first of seven apartment buildings planned for the former Pepsi site. The Hunters Point Subdistrict Rezoning proposal seeks to ensure a balance between this future area-wide growth while supporting existing land uses and neighborhood character.

Specifically, the rezoning aims to:

• Remove restrictions on residential development and conversions.

• Retain light manufacturing businesses while supporting the growing entrepreneurial activities that are restricted by the current zoning. The new zoning would permit a range of operations interested in locating in the area, including artist studios, art galleries, small theaters and performance spaces and small printers.

• Maintain the existing scale of three- and four-story residential buildings within the neighborhood mid-blocks and foster infill housing on small lots.

• Encourage new residential and mixed-use development at moderately higher densities along wide streets close to public transit and adjoining the LIC core and Queens West. New construction on Jackson Avenue could rise to a maximum of 12 stories, while 11th Street is likely to see new buildings of six stories and a maximum of eight stories on 44th Drive.

The proposal was developed with input by the public and business leaders and followed several planning meetings held in the community.

Following review and approval by the community boards and Borough President, the application will be returned to the City Planning Commission for a public hearing and a vote. Then it goes before the City Council for final approval. The Department of City Planning website contains more information on this project and the public review process.

City Planning
The Department of City Planning is responsible for the City's physical and socioeconomic planning, including land use and environmental review; preparation of plans and policies; and provision of technical assistance and planning information to government agencies, public officials, and community boards.

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