Richmond Hill was developed beginning in the 1870s on land surrounding the then newly constructed Richmond Hill passenger depot. In 1910, the tract of land that had served as the Richmond Hill Golf Club began to be redeveloped as the new community of Kew Gardens, spurred by the opening of a new Long Island Railroad commuter station. By the 1930’s six- and seven-story, brick apartment buildings were introduced near the LIRR Kew Gardens stop, giving the area a wide range of housing types.
In the past four years there has been an increase in development in the rezoning area. More than 80 residential buildings containing more than 400 new dwelling units have been built. Most of the new buildings are located on the area = s mid-blocks and are two- to three-story, attached and semi-detached brick structures with two to six dwelling units per building. Other new development in the study area has included six- to ten-story condominium buildings, a small shopping center and several automotive-related retail and service developments.
The Kew Gardens – Richmond Hill rezoning area has a wide range of land uses including multiple-family walk-up and elevator buildings, one and two-family residential buildings, schools, auto-related commercial uses, retail and office uses, mixed residential and commercial buildings and light industrial, transportation and warehouse uses. Approximately two-thirds of the lots within the rezoning area consist of one and two-family houses, while another 13 percent includes multi-family apartment buildings, most of which are located in Kew Gardens. Mixed-use residential buildings with ground floor commercial uses constitute roughly 9 percent of lots within the rezoning area, and are concentrated along Jamaica Avenue, and to a lesser extent, Lefferts Boulevard.
Retail and other solely commercial buildings account for nearly three percent of the lots, while industrial uses are attributable to two percent of the area's lots. Jamaica Avenue holds the greatest concentration of commercial uses in the area, housing a wide variety of local retail and service establishments. Retail uses are also found along Lefferts Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue and these tend to cater to LIRR commuters and nearby residents. Industrial, transportation and auto-related uses are found south of Jamaica Avenue as well as in the area east of the LIRR tracks and south of Hillside Avenue. Vacant land and parking lots constitute about 3.5 percent of the land uses and are located primarily on Jamaica Avenue. Public facilities/schools account for a bit more than one percent of the lots in the rezoning area, and open spaces are less than one percent of the area's lots.
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