BSA approves variance at RKO Keith Flushing Theater site

Developer gets variance to build a 200-unit, mixed-use development on site occupied by historic theater. Boymelgreen Developers, owner of two lots located at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Main Street in Flushing, Queens, totaling 41,880 square feet, sought to construct a 200-unit, seventeen- story, mixed-use building with accessory parking. The building will be constructed on two currently improved lots. The first lot contains a two-story commercial building that will be demolished. The second lot contains the RKO Keith Flushing Theater, which is home to an interior landmark.

Boymelgreen argued that several unique features of the site created an unnecessary hardship. The limited street frontage along Northern Boulevard, much of which is occupied by the theater, required the residential tower to be built above the theater. Boymelgreen also argued that restoration and protection of the theater during construction would be costly and time consuming. According to Boymelgreen, bringing the theater up to modern standards was infeasible because it would require an increased incline on the ground floor for stadium seating and a rebuilt balcony. Among other waivers requested, Boymelgreen sought to increase the allowable residential FAR for from 2.43 to 6.86 and the mixed-use FAR from 4.8 to 7.5.

Originally, Boymelgreen proposed to construct a 15-story, 150- unit building with 250 accessory parking spaces in a three-level garage. Before the first public hearing, however, Boymelgreen increased the proposal to 17 stories with 200 units and reduced the proposed parking to 200 spaces. At the request of BSA, Boymelgreen evaluated a design with a fourth parking level to increase the number of spaces, but argued that a fourth level was infeasible due to poor soil conditions and a high water table. Boymelgreen agreed to increase the number of spaces to 229 by using a garage elevator rather than ramps.

Community Board 7 and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall recommended approval, as did Council Member John C. Liu and State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

BSA determined that as-of-right development would not provide a reasonable return due to the theater’s significant street frontage and landmark status. BSA also noted that Boymelgreen would perform restoration work on the theater and had already obtained the appropriate approval from Landmarks to do so. In addition, BSA stated that the building will provide space for a community senior center and a display of the theater’s history.

BSA: 135-35 Northern Boulevard (156- 03-BZ) (Howard Goldman, for Boymelgreen Developers). CITYADMIN

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