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Olympic Village may not fit in Queens West

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As NYC 2012 pushes forward with its plans to bring the Olympic Games to Queens, members of Community Board 2 pointed out a potential flaw in the proposal to set the Olympic Village on waterfront being developed by the Queens West Development Corporation.

Queens West, which has an ambitious plan to develop the Queens waterfront at Hunters Point into residential and commercial properties, has given no indication its holdings would be available for Olympic use.

The Olympic proposal, which was originally unveiled in 1999, calls for half of the Olympic Village to occupy the southern tip of Queens West, a joint effort by public and private investors.

Brenda Lebin, director of community relations for NYC 2012, the non-profit organization charged with submitting a bid for New York City to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, presented the latest version of the proposal March 21 to members of CB 2’s land use committee.

Although the NYC 2012 proposal largely hinges on the use of Queens West, a representative of the Queens West Development Corporation said the southern housing units would likely be built and occupied before the Games, which would eliminate the site for use as the Olympic Village.

“There have not been any detailed discussions with the 2012 folks regarding this issue,” said Queens West spokeswoman Maura Gallucci. “We would hope that the buildings would be built and they would have their residents in them by 2012.”

NYC 2012 Executive Director Jay Kriegal stressed that his organization will have many years to settle its plans if New York is chosen as the Olympic site.

“I think our belief is the plans will fit together in the end, but we do not have any disagreements with Queens West, and we are certainly not doing anything that will slow them down,” he said.

The Queens West development plan calls for two residential areas, one in the north and one south, which would be united by a commercial core. Under the NYC 2012 proposal, the first to occupy the 2,200 units in the southern section would be the 16,000 athletes and coaches participating in the 17-day Olympic Games, after which the units would be sold or leased in the marketplace. The village would also include another 2,200 units on the property directly east of Queens West.

According to Lebin’s presentation, the tentative design of the Olympic Village would preserve the 2,200 housing units proposed by Queens West while radically altering their appearance. Buildings would be set further from the water, offering better access to the waterfront and opening up the view of Manhattan to more people.

The Olympic village would also provide training facilities, gyms, playing fields, shopping, and cafeterias within a short distance from the housing complex, while bringing in a wealth of improvements to the local infrastructure, most notably in the transportation arena, Lebin said.

While members of CB 2 applauded the proposed amendments to the design, they worried that Queens West Development Corporation probably would not agree to revise the plan already in place.

“We thought the redesign was better than what was being proposed by Queens West,” said CB 2 Chairman Joseph Conley, who criticized the towering buildings as out-of-scale with the neighborhood. “What they (NYC 2012) have to do is go to Queens West, because that would be a change in their plan, and we don’t think Queens West is ready to take that leap in faith.”

Gallucci said the general project plan for Queens West is “quite binding.” Developers have already been chosen for the northern and commercial segments of the site, and Gallucci said attention is now being focused on the southern parcel.

NYC 2012 submitted a draft of its bid to the United States Olympic Committee on Dec. 15,; the final copy is due in June. In fall 2002, the USOC is to choose one city from a pool of competitors, including New York, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Tampa, Los Angeles and Washington-Baltimore, which will then be considered by the International Olympic Committee for the 2012 games. The final announcement of the Olympic city will be made in 2005.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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