City Council Approves Reform Temple of Forest Hills Rezoning

Rendering of the new ten-story building that will have over 150 units and serve as the new home for the Reform Temple of Forest Hills. Image Credit: NYC CPC.

On February 2, 2023, the City Council voted to approve a rezoning that would enable the redevelopment of the Reform Temple of Forest Hills to a ten-story mixed-use building that includes a new temple and residential space. The Reform Temple of Forest Hills is currently located at 71-11 112th Street in Forest Hills, Queens.

The new development will be a ten-story building with 153 units, including 38 permanently affordable units under Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) Option 1. MIH Option 1 requires at least 25 percent of the residential floor area be affordable at an average of 60 percent area median income. The applicant had initially sought either MIH Option 1 or Option 2, but the City Council modified the application to scrap Option 2. Option 2 requires 30 percent of the residential floor area to be affordable at an average of 80 percent area median income, so while it could create more affordable units, Option 2 would make those units more expensive.

The building will also have a new enlarged temple facility, 66 attended parking spaces in the cellar and 102 bike parking spaces. The temple and community spaces, including classrooms, a flexible multipurpose sanctuary space and offices, will be fully ADA accessible. The new facility will provide more space and meet the accessibility needs of the growing congregation. 

Previously, the application received conditional approvals from both Queens Community Board 6 and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. The community board wanted the applicants to consider installing bioswales and rain gardens to increase water-site retention and to provide more affordable units beyond the MIH Option 1 requirements. The borough president wanted the applicant to have a goal of a minimum 30 percent hiring of M/WBE firms and local residents and to seek out additional subsidies for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. 

The City Planning Commission voted to approve the application on December 14, 2022. At a previous public hearing, seven people testified in support and none in opposition. In its report, the City Planning Commission supported the application because of the need for more housing, including affordable housing. The Commission also recognized that by rezoning, the resulting building would not be out of place in an area surrounded by seven to fourteen-story buildings, and acknowledged that the congregation would also benefit from a larger, more accessible space. 

The City Council voted to approve the project with a vote of 48 to 1. Council Member Charles Barron was the only negative vote. 

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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