CB 3 OK’s building blasted by Dromm

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Community Board 3 recently approved a six-story, mixed-use apartment complex in Jackson Heights on the site of a building that had been destroyed in a fire, but City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and civic members say the proposed building does not fit the character of the area.

“Jackson Heights was built to be open and airy and this building seems to be using every available space to create an apartment or commercial rental,” Dromm said.

The councilman said the site at 84th Street and 37th Avenue, where developer Thomas Hu plans to build, had once been a one-story building that housed more than a dozen stores, but a fire had destroyed it in February. In its place, Hu plans to build a complex with commercial stores on the ground floor and apartments on the five floors above, similar to the Georgian Hall buildings on 35th Avenue and 83rd and 84th streets.

Hu could not be reached for this article.

Ed Westley, a member of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, said at last month’s CB 3 meeting that they wanted Hu to consider changing some aspects of the building. They asked him to keep a garden in the front of the building similar to the one in front of Georgian Hall instead of building up to the property line, to refrain from constructing up to the limits of the property on the north side and blocking the neighboring building’s windows, to make the building materials consistent with the historical district, to build a community center and to redesign the east end of the building, which has no windows.

Westley said Hu would only consider changing the east end wall.

“That’s the one thing he’s going to try to design differently so it’s more pleasing to the eye,” Westley said.

Despite the objections, CB 3 voted to approve the building. Members of CB 3 did not return phone calls for comment.

The building is to be put up in the Jackson Heights Historic District, which was landmarked by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission and is bordered by 76th Street, 88th Street, Roosevelt Avenue and Northern Boulevard. Dromm said he believed the current design of the building violates the standards of the district.

“This site had never had a building taller than one story on it in the history of the community,” Dromm said.

The councilman also said he wanted Hu to allow the community to put up a mural on the wall surrounding the property, but the developer had not agreed to that and in the interim the wall had become covered with graffiti.

“We’re very concerned about what type of a landlord this is going to be,” Dromm said.

Westley said last week they hoped to repeat their arguments and get changes made at the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing scheduled this week. The board is expected to make a decision over whether the building can be built as planned afterward.

“The only shot we have here is if the Landmarks Commission takes a position that is favorable to what we’re looking for,” Westley said. “Other than that, he has the right to build this building.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 6:14 pm, October 10, 2011
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