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EDC plans school, office for lot behind Boro Hall

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Plans are in the works to build a new high school and office complex behind Queens Borough Hall in an effort to alleviate some of the school crowding problem and a shortage of office space in Kew Gardens, Borough President Helen Marshall said.

Construction on the project is expected to begin in about a year pending approval from City Planning, the City Council and the mayor, said a spokesman at the New York City Economic Development Corp., which is spearheading the project.

The EDC also must ask for a recommendation from Kew Gardens’ Community Board 9. The two groups will meet in late August, said the district manager of the board.

The EDC said last Thursday it had selected Lend Lease, a U.S. subsidiary of Australia’s largest property company, to put up the buildings. The 1,100-car garage that currently occupies some of the land behind Borough Hall will be destroyed to make room for the new facilities.

Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), who supports the idea, said he thinks that even in face of the city’s current budget woes and recent cuts to education, money will be appropriated for the project sometime in the next few years.

Despite legislators’ reluctance to spend money building new schools during tough financial times, the economic growth the project could stimulate will encourage the city to fund construction, said Weprin, who is chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee.

“If (a new high school) is part of an overall economic development project, at least in my mind it will be built,” Weprin said.

The project could create as many as 2,200 full-time construction jobs and 1,460 full-time permanent jobs, the EDC contends.

Initial plans for the 615,000-square-foot development include 425,000 square feet for the office tower and 190,000 square feet for the public high school. The complex will sit above an underground 1,500-car parking garage.

The cost, height and other details of the buildings have not been determined yet, said Bruce Brodoff, a spokesman for the EDC. Ideas for construction were conceived last year by former Borough President Claire Shulman and the EDC, Brodoff said.

The office building will provide space for some of the Queens district attorney’s staff, government agencies and private companies, Brodoff said. The planned garage is also expected to relieve the tight parking caused by the Borough Hall and the adjacent courthouse, he said.

“This project will develop an underutilized site and transform it into a transportation hub that will include a much-needed school and quality office space,” said the borough president. “We look forward to working with the city and all concerned parties to make this project a reality.”

The complex will be bordered by Union Turnpike to the north, 82nd Avenue to the south, 126th Street to the west, and 132nd Street in the east.

“This office complex will allow Kew Gardens to solidify its position as one of Queens’ most prominent business districts,” said EDC President Andrew Alper.

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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