Owner allowed to complete transient hotel

Board ruled that owner made substantial progress on foundation prior to rezoning. In May 2008, Buildings issued the owner of 219-05 North Conduit Boulevard a permit to construct a three-story, 65-room transient hotel in the Laurelton section of Queens. The proposed building complied with the zoning requirements at the time. On September 4, 2008, the City Council approved a rezoning in Laurelton, 5 CityLand 121 (Sept. 15, 2008), which rezoned the owner’s property from C2-2/R3-2 to C1-1/R3X. The new district did not permit transient hotels. Since the building’s foundation had not been completed at the time of the rezoning, the permit lapsed and Buildings issued a stop-work order.

The owner sought approval from BSA to complete construction under a claim of vested rights, arguing that it had completed excavation and that substantial progress had been made on the foundation before Council approved the rezoning. In support of its claim, the owner submitted affidavits from the construction manager and architect, a certified Pile Identification Plan and Pile Driving Reports, and financial documents demonstrating that the owner had incurred approximately 65 percent of the total estimated foundation cost prior to the rezoning.

City Council Members James Sanders, Jr. and Leroy Comrie, Queens Community Board 13, and several civic associations opposed the application. They argued that excavation had not been completed, and submitted photographs showing two large mounds of dirt on the site and several pile cap locations that appeared to be unexcavated. The opposition also claimed that substantial progress had not been made on the foundation, and argued that the owner incorrectly factored in work performed during a period of work stoppage. Finally, the opposition believed that denial was appropriate since the transient hotel conflicted with Laurelton’s neighborhood character.

BSA disagreed with the opposition and granted the owner a sixmonth extension to finish work. BSA found that the photographs submitted by the opposition proved that the foundation area had been excavated for vesting purposes. Some excavated areas, including pile cap locations, were often backfilled to ensure site safety. BSA found that some work had been carried out during Building’s mandated work stoppage, but determined that substantial progress had been made on the foundation after reviewing a revised work chronology. Although BSA recognized the community’s hard work during the Laurelton rezoning process, it explained that a proper vested rights analysis did not consider a development’s compatibility with its surrounding area.

BSA: 219-05 North Conduit Blvd., Queens (245-08-BZY) (April 7, 2009) (Jordan Most, for owner). CITYADMIN

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