BSA denies variance to allow retail in Queens

BSA rejected owner’s site valuation and claim that buildings were of a “different era.” Sutphin Boulevard LLC, owner of three adjacent lots in a residential district totaling 24,649 sq. ft., sought to demolish four buildings housing auto-service and auto-storage space on one of its lots and construct a one-story 12,005-square-foot retail building spanning the three lots. The site, at Sutphin Boulevard and I I It h Avenue in Queens, has contained an auto-service station since 1 93 1 under a City approval that BSA extended until 1 980. Since 1980, the service station has operated without approval.

In its variance application, Sutphin argued that the existing buildings were obsolete and demolition and remediation costs made as-of-right residential construction cost-prohibitive. Sutphin also claimed that a hardship existed because the residentially-zoned site contained a use prohibited under the current zoning.

BSA denied the application, finding that the buildings, constructed in 1 950, were not obsolete or “of a different era” as Sutphin argued. Since Sutphin planned to demolish the buildings, arguments based on the buildings’ obsolescence were irrelevant. BSA also denied that either the $32,000 demolition cost or the one-time $340,000 remediation cost were substantial enough to create a hardship when a code-compliant residential building would cost over $8 million to build, and questioned Sutphin’s $ 1 . 1 million site valuation. Sutphin submitted comparables based on 6,000-square-foot sites while Sutphin’s site was over 20,000 sq.ft. BSA also noted that it had never found hardship existed on a site solely because a site contained a non-conforming use under the current zoning.

BSA: 111-02 Sutphin Boulevard (299-04-BZ) (October 1 8, 2005) . CITYADMIN

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