The Austin Street and adjacent area in Forest Hills has evolved from an area characterized by local retail uses in the eastern portion and automotive uses in the western portion into a more regional commercial and mixed use character. The current zoning, however, is unchanged since 1961 and the three existing zones - C8-2, C4-2, and R7-1 – poorly match current land use characteristics and established development patterns. The C8-2 zone prohibits residential uses and allows automobile service uses inconsistent with a vibrant mix of shopping and residential uses. None of the existing zones have a height limit and they do not closely reflect the change in building scales from the lower buildings along Austin Street to the higher buildings along Queens Boulevard.
The south side of Austin Street is characterized by low rise 1-3 story buildings, typically ranging in height from 20 -40 feet. The midblock consists of predominantly medium density buildings ranging from 4-6 stories with heights typically 70 feet or less. The Queens Boulevard corridor has buildings ranging in height from 80-225 feet.
Automotive use located at 69th Road and Gerard Place in existing C8-2 district
Mixed use residential tower located at Queens Boulevard and 71st Road in existing C4-2 district
The western half of the rezoning area is zoned C8-2. C8-2 districts allow commercial and community facility uses in Use Groups 4 through 14 and 16. The most prevalent uses in C8 districts are automotive and heavy commercial uses such as auto repair and showrooms, warehouses, gas stations and car washes. Residential uses are not permitted. The maximum commercial floor area ratio (FAR) in C8-2 districts is 2.0. There is no maximum building height and the building envelope is regulated by the sky exposure plane. Community facilities are permitted an FAR of 4.8. Off-street parking requirements vary with the use, but generally most uses require one accessory parking space per 400 square feet of commercial space.
The eastern half of the rezoning area is zoned C4-2. C4-2 zoning districts are mapped in regional commercial centers that are located outside of the central business district and allow commercial, community facility and residential development. Specialty and department stores, theaters and commercial uses that serve a broader area are typically found here and generate more traffic than neighborhood shopping areas. There is a maximum residential FAR of 2.43 or 3.0 (on a wide street) using the optional Quality Housing Program. There is no maximum building height and the building envelope is governed by the sky exposure plane. The maximum commercial FAR is 3.4 and community facilities are permitted an FAR of 4.8. The residential parking requirement is 70% of the dwelling units or 50% under Quality Housing. Off-street parking requirements vary with the use, but generally most uses require one accessory parking space per 300 square feet of commercial space
Two block front portions along Queens Boulevard as well as the eastern most portion of Austin Street are zoned R7-1. R7-1 is a medium-density residential district. The maximum residential FAR is 3.44 or 4.0 (on wide streets using Quality Housing). Community facilities are permitted an FAR of 4.8. R7-1 is a height factor district with no fixed height limits. Building envelopes are regulated by the sky exposure plane. Parking spaces are required for 60% of the dwelling units or 50% if Quality Housing provisions are used.
A C1-2 overlay is mapped on the eastern end of Austin Street between 72nd Road and Ascan Avenue. C1 districts are mapped within residential districts and allow Use Groups 1 through 6, which permits the kinds of daily retail and service establishments needed in residential neighborhoods. Maximum commercial floor area can reach 2.0 FAR when the overlay is mapped within an R7-1 district and commercial uses are limited to the ground floor in mixed-use buildings Most retail uses require one accessory parking space per 300 square feet of commercial floor space, although the requirements may range between one space per 200 square feet and one space per 800 square feet.
Brief explanations of terms in green italics can be viewed by clicking on the term. Words and phrases followed by an asterisk (*) are defined terms in the Zoning Resolution, primarily in Section 12-10. Consult the Zoning Resolution for the official and legally binding definitions of these words and phrases.