A mix of housing and industry has long-defined Hunters Point, and the city’s
planning efforts have repeatedly addressed the area’s evolving mixed-use
character. Beginning in the 1860s, the area emerged as a transportation hub,
a role hastened by construction of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) terminal
and reinforced in later decades with development of the Sunnyside Yard and
the IRT Flushing subway line. Over time, residential, manufacturing and commercial
uses sprang up around these infrastructure projects.
In 1961, despite prevalent concentrations of residences in the neighborhood,
manufacturing zoning districts were established throughout Hunters Point
to foster the expansion of industrial uses. The 1969
Plan for New York City,
however, recognized the need for special mixed-use zoning classifications
that “would permit expansion and improvement of both residential and
industrial properties,” and it recommended that such mixed-use zoning
be developed for Hunters Point.
The Special Hunters Point Mixed Use District was established in 1981 for
the area in an attempt to regulate the existing and evolving mix of residential,
commercial, and industrial uses in the neighborhood. The special district
regulations allowed new manufacturing and commercial uses as-of-right. The
provisions also permitted very limited as-of-right enlargements and alterations
of existing residential buildings and new infill residential construction.
In 1986, the Court Square Subdistrict was created within the special district
for a three-block area along Jackson Avenue with access to several subway
lines (E, F, and G) to encourage high-density commercial office development.
This led to the construction in 1989 of the 50-story Citigroup building and
a new free transfer connection between the subway lines.
In 1993, the Department of City Planning published its Plan
for Long Island City: A Framework for Development. The report recommended further
zoning changes for the Special Hunters Point Mixed Use District. These changes
were subsequently adopted in 1995, notably rezoning prime corridors in the
district such as Jackson Avenue, Vernon Boulevard, and 44th Drive from a
light manufacturing district to residential/commercial districts.
The focus of the 2001 zoning changes was to establish the Queens Plaza Subdistrict
of a new Special Long Island City Mixed Use District and foster a dynamic,
pedestrian-oriented, business district anchored by three subway stations.
The new zoning facilitates commercial development at increased densities
and allows new residences to mix with commercial and light industrial businesses.
In 2001, the Special Hunters Point Mixed Use District and the Court Square
Subdistrict became subdistricts of a the new Special Long Island City Mixed
Use District. The provisions governing the Hunters Point Subdistrict were
unchanged at that time.