Last week, Community Board Two held a public hearing regarding two proposals to install Slow Zones in Sunnyside, Sunnyside Gardens and Woodside. If the zones are implemented, the DOT will bring 38 speed bumps and 50 gateways (special signs to indicate where the zone begins) to the neighborhoods. The speed limit will be reduced to 20 mph. The Times Ledger reports that the proposal “did not receive overwhelming support” with board members worried about possible gridlock and more traffic. One member called the yellow gateway signs an eyesore, although the DOT stated they cannot be altered. But CB2 Chairman Joe Conley spoke in support of the measure, saying that cars usually travel 35 to 40 mph through the residential streets.
Ultimately, CB2 almost unanimously approved the proposal by a hands-raised vote, according to the Ledger. The DOT is now going to take the community suggestions into consideration before submitting a final plan for installation.
What would become Woodside, a bustling community centered at Roosevelt Avenue and 61st Street where the #7 Flushing Line and the Long Island Rail Road come together, was originally a part of a larger colonial village, Newtown. It was largely a woodsy swamp until the mid-1860s, when developer Benjamin Hitchcock purchased the John Kelly farm and divided it into building lots located along today’s Woodside Avenue. Kelly, an early settler, was part owner of a Brooklyn newspaper and sent it dispatches from his home in the ‘sticks’ called “Letters from Woodside;” Hitchcock perpetuated the name. Woodside took off when the Queensboro Bridge opened in 1909 and the el arrived in 1917. Woodside’s strange street pattern, with some streets angling for seemingly no reason, has to do with its old railroads: the Flushing and Woodside and Flushing and Northside Railroads, as well as the Long Island Rail Road, all ran through Woodside. By the late 19th century, the railroads had either failed or had been absorbed by the LIRR. The surviving roads, absorbed into the LIRR, were elevated by 1917.
Today in Woodside you are just as likely to exit an Irish bar and enter an Indian restaurant as you are to walk out of a bodega and then past a remnant of the colonial era. Woodside has succeeded in hiding in plain sight some of its more prominent relics from the old days, too.
It’s going to be a bad weekend on the 7 line for Queens residents. The Sunnyside Post sends the alert that the MTA is suspending 7 train service between Times Square-42nd Street and 74th Street/Roosevelt Ave from 2 am Saturday through 4:30 am Monday. The closure is part of ongoing construction that’s unfortunately expected to last until 2017.
There will be two free shuttle services for the weekend. The first is running from Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave to Queensboro Plaza, stopping at Hunters Point Ave, 45th Road/Court House Square and Queens Plaza. The other is running between Queensboro Plaza and 74th Street/Broadway. It will stop at 33rd Street, 40th Street, 46th Street, 52nd Street, 61st Street/Woodside and 69th Street.
CPEX just listed a massive, block-through development site at 64-11 Queens Boulevard, between 64th and 65th Streets. (The Queens Motor Inn building.) The site, which is 19,808 square feet, is zoned for both commercial and residential development, with a residential FAR of 5. To give you an idea of the building size that would accommodate, the current Motor Inn building is only built up to a FAR of .9. A new development could be as much as 99,040 square feet.
The ask for the lot is $12,000,000, no small sum indeed. The listing tries to sells Woodside as “one of the most stable communities in Queens” with main retail corridors, great ethnic restaurants, commercial growth and reasonable rents that attract working class and young residents.
A few big streetscape proposals have popped up around Queens. The first is in Long Island City, where the Department of Transportation introduced safety proposals for Court Square and Queens Plaza streets. LIC Post reports that “the department is focusing on the area that links Queens Plaza South to 44th Drive—bordered by 28th Street on the east and Crescent Street to the west.” The DOT proposes a long list of changes: reducing the width of 28th Street by adding a center median, increasing the size of the pedestrian island at the corner of 28th Street and 42nd Road, adding a pedestrian island in the middle of 44th Drive, converting Hunter Street from a one-way to a two-way between 44th Drive and 43rd Avenue. They are also eyeing the corner of 44th Drive and Jackson Avenue, as well as Crescent Street between 43rd Avenue and 42nd Drive, for safety improvements. Check out the full plan here — Community Board 2 is expected to vote on the proposal September 4th.
Meanwhile, in Sunnyside and Woodside, the DOT has proposed two slow zones for the neighborhood. Sunnyside Post reports that each zone will cover the northern and the southern section of both neighborhoods. (Check out a map after the jump, and see the DOT’s full presentation here.) The new zones will be marked by new speed bumps and large blue signs stating the 20 mph speed limit. According to Sunnyside Post, “Community Board 2 is planning on holding a public meeting on the plans that is likely to take place within the next two weeks.” The DOT hopes to install the slow zones by the end of the year.
Community Board 2 chair Joseph Conley, along with leaders based in Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, came up with a proposal to bring more affordable housing to the borough. The Daily News reports that in a letter to the city, the group highlighted four different parcels with the potential for rezoning. Conley wants taller, denser developments with at least 30 percent of the units priced affordably. The locations in question are an area of Queens Plaza, a triangle in Woodside bound by Broadway, Northern Boulevard and the BQE, a parcel in Sunnyside near Northern Boulevard between 43rd to 48th Streets, and finally on top of the LIRR tracks on Woodside Avenue between 63rd and 65th Streets.
This proposal is inspired by Mayor de Blasio’s pledge to preserve or create 200,000 affordable units in the next ten years. Conley expressed concern over the “Gold Coast” emerging in LIC — the abundance of new-construction developments where a one bedroom rents for $2,800 to $3,200 a month. A rep from the Department of City Planning seemed open to the push for affordability: “We appreciate [the community board’s] willingness to discuss the important goals of expanding housing that will be affordable to a range of incomes. We continue to evaluate the appropriateness of areas that can meet the goals of the mayor’s housing plan,” she stated.
The 23rd Street/Ely Avenue station has increased in importance in recent years, as Greenpoint has gotten hotter — Queensicans needing access can change trains to the G line here, when the G vouchsafes to cross under the noxious and noisome Newtown Creek, which it won’t be doing for awhile. Many subway amateurs think this is the place where 23rd Street crosses Ely Avenue. This is a fallacy, as Ely Avenue is actually the former name of 23rd Street. It carried the name until the 1920s, as the then NYC Topographical Bureau decided to put Queens under one numerical street system in 1915, and the streets were numbered gradually from neighborhood to neighborhood, completing the process by 1930.
However, some anachronisms remain on subway station signs. The best-known are along the #7 line, where Rawson, Bliss, and Lowery Streets, as well as Lincoln Avenue, are still on the station signs for 33rd, 40th, 46th and 52nd Streets. Names also persist along the N/Q in Astoria, and the A in Ozone Park and the Rockaway peninsula.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and Astoria, plans to introduce a participatory funding process for the 2015/2016 budget year. Participatory funding allows members of the community to have a say in how city money is spent in their district.
Next week Van Bramer will host two meetings, one in Sunnyside and one in Long Island City to give residents basic information about the process and how they can get involved. Later there will be a series of town hall meetings where residents can put forward their ideas and eventually a vote will be taken on how the funds will be spent. Van Bramer is allocating $1 million to the process in the 2015/2016 budget.
See the flier after the jump for locations and times. (more…)
The lot at 51-25 Queens Boulevard, off 52nd Street, just sold for big bucks. Public records show that a Queens-based buyer picked it up for $2,900,000. The corner property is huge — 5,400 square feet, according to the listing — and it seems incredibly likely that a new development will come. It’s zoned for both residential and commercial use, with a FAR of 5. That means a building more than five times the size of the current building on site (pictured) could rise here.
So far, no action on the Department of Buildings side. But our guess is that a tear down is coming soon… GMAP
The Parks Department released plans to revamp the Mary Whalen Playground, a playground in Forest Park near Forest Park Drive and Park Lane South in Woodhaven. Times Ledger shares details on the $1,180,000 project, which includes the reconstruction of the pre-school and pre-teen play areas and the spray shower. Parks will install a new and safer swing set for younger kids, and a court for teenagers to play on. There will be much more vegetation and greenery, as well as large boulders placed near the edge of the park. The space will also be fully wheelchair accessible.
City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley earmarked $1,000,000 in city funding for the project over the past two years. The plan is to put the project out to bid next month and begin construction next spring. Work will last for about one year. The playground is named after the former vice chairwoman of Community Board 9, Mary Whalen, who also founded the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp. It was last renovated in the early 90s.