CB 7 approves Flushing biz rezone

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Community Board 7 voted overwhelmingly Monday to support a downtown Flushing auto shop owner’s proposal to rezone his property to allow for it to be redeveloped as a mid-sized, mixed-use building.

Mark Solow, owner of Crown Auto Parts, which has been at 139-01 Northern Blvd. for generations, presented plans for a “hypothetical building” at the hearing.

The plans, which call for a six-story, 52,570-square-foot edifice, are an example of what he said he hopes to build there if the city approves the change from manufacturing to mixed-use residential zoning.

But Solow is not bound to those plans, though he agreed to a “gentlemen’s agreement” with CB 7 requesting that he come back before the board if he wants to make major changes or sell the 11,000-square-foot site.

“My name’s on the project,” he said. “I’ve lived in the community for 35 years and I have a handle on what’s needed in the area and how to get along with the neighbors.”

If he chooses not to follow the agreement, he can build a differently designed building as-of-right or sell it to a developer who would have carte blanche to build anything not excluded by the zoning’s requirements.

But CB 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian said the agreement is a good way to put pressure on a developer to do right by the community.

“If there’s a gentlemen’s agreement ... that will at least be something,” he said. “It’s not binding.”

And Solow’s attorney, Eric Palatnik, said Solow plans to build the project as he presented it Monday evening.

“Mark has a very clean vision of his plans for the site,” Palatnik said.

The board approved the project by a vote of 31-2, and it will now go before Borough President Helen Marshall for approval before going before the City Council.

The building as proposed would replace the crumbling, century-old, existing structure with a building containing 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail; a 7,500 square-foot, second-floor community facility; four floors containing 52 residential units; and a cellar with 62 parking spots. Solow said he has not decided whether to build condos, apartments or co-ops because he plans to base that choice on market factors as the work gets underway.

Palatnik said that no matter what becomes of the site, it is better for the neighborhood to rezone it than to leave it open to manufacturing uses such as a gas station or factory, a point several board members echoed during the hearing.

“Anything manufacturing or heavy commercial can come in now and actually I think that’s worse than what we have planned, which is residential mixed-use,” Palatnik said.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 10:48 am, October 12, 2011
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