It's official: After months of meetings between the developer and a skeptical community, a Long Island City block will get grad students from the City University of New York and an arts organization as part of a mixed-use development.
The city Board of Standards and Appeals approved the project at 5-11 47th Ave. Sept. 22, granting a variance to build a 12-story building in a seven-story zone, one story smaller than developer O'Connor Capital Partners had requested.
Howard Goldman, an attorney for the developer, was not sure how the reduction would affect the proposed 188 market-rate units and 245 units for CUNY doctoral students and faculty.
It will also be home to the Queens Council on the Arts' new headquarters, a 6,000-square-foot storefront abutting a 5,000-square-foot courtyard the group will be able to use for art exhibits.
Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, the council's executive director, said the group was excited by the BSA's decision.
"Our relocation to the epicenter of the Long Island City community will allow us to expand opportunities for artists throughout the borough," she said. "We look forward to engaging everyone in the neighborhood in anticipation of our arrival."
O'Connor requested the variance in order to have enough market-rate units to compensate for the estimated $8 million cleanup the property will require.
Part of the site was formerly a metal sheeting factory that leaked selenium and arsenic into the soil. The cleanup is expected to take several months, Goldman said. The buildings, designed by Manhattan architect Jay Valgora, should be completed by August 2010, Goldman said.
Not everyone in Long Island City was overjoyed by the news, however.
Tom Paino, who led a group called the Long Island City Community in protesting the variance, said he was disappointed.
"I and most of the others are not opposed to the dorm," he said. "We are opposed to what will be the district's first substandard building."
Because the developers were granted eight variances outside of zoning rules, the building would be substandard, Paino explained.
"The zoning throughout the mixed-use district, every single lot calls for ... a whole host of requirements to make buildings be contextual to match what's in the neighborhood: The low, squat buildings set back from the street. This building will not do any of these things."
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@tim
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