Parking reduced at Queens Plaza mixed-use project

Second phase of 1 5 million sq ft mixed-use project in Long Island City moves forward after City cut parking requirements by half. On July 28, 2011, the City Council approved the Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ proposal to modify parking requirements related to the Gotham Center project at 28-10 Queens Plaza South in Long Island City, Queens. The site was formerly occupied by the 1,150-space Queens Plaza Municipal Garage, which was demolished in 2008. Tishman Speyer has built a 523,000 sq.ft. office tower, known as Two Gotham Center, on the north west portion of the site for the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The next phase of the site’s redevelopment will include a second office tower on the remaining portion of the site. The new 900,000 sq.ft. tower will include a parking garage linked to the DOHMH building’s existing 162-space garage. 

Pursuant to a previously approved special permit for the site, the Gotham Center project was required to include a 1,150-space parking garage to replace the spaces lost following the demolition of the municipal garage. DCAS sought to reduce the required number of spaces from 1,150 to 550 to better reflect current and projected parking demand in the area. According to DCAS’s proposal, Tishman Speyer would incorporate a 388-space parking garage into the new tower, which when combined with the DOHMH building’s garage, would provide a total of 550 spaces.

Queens Community Board 2 opposed the proposed reduction in parking. Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall supported the proposal. Marshall stated that parking studies indicated that 550 spaces would be adequate to meet parking demand, noting that 1,000 existing spaces within a quarter-mile of the project site were not fully occupied during peak midday periods.

At the City Planning Commission’s May 25 public hearing, Robert Goldrich from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development estimated that the project would bring 1,500 construction jobs and 3,600 permanent jobs to Long Island City. Goldrich explained that CB 2 had expressed concerns about onstreet parking issues, such as illegal use of City parking placards by City employees. He added that the City was in the process of completing relocation initiatives for municipal vehicles and was pursuing stricter enforcement against illegal parking placard usage. CB 2 chair Joseph Conley stated that CB 2’s land use committee had unanimously approved the proposal, and that he “could not explain” the full board’s disapproval of the application. The Commission approved the proposal.

The Commission noted that the smaller garage would more accurately reflect the existing and projected demand for public parking in the area.

At the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing, two union representatives, accompanied by dozens of union members, testified in support. The Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York’s Paul Fernandez claimed that the second phase of the Gotham Center project would be “severely compromised” unless the modification was approved. Local Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer requested that the Subcommittee lay over the vote to provide time for further discussion.

When the Subcommittee reconvened two days later, Van Bramer stated that he had received assurances that the City would increase efforts to thwart parking placard abuse in the neighborhood and that other on-street parking regulations would be “rigorously enforced.” Further, the City had agreed to a significant reduction of long-term parking spots in surrounding area. Van Bramer also stated that the City Council would consider “home rule” legislation supporting the establishment of a residential parking permit program in the area.

The Subcommittee unanimously approved the proposal, and the Land Use Committee and the full Council followed suit.

Review Process
Lead Agency: Dep. Mayor for Econ. Dev.,
Neg. Dec.
Comm. Bd.: QN 2, Den’d, 24-12-2
Boro. Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 11-0-0
Council: App’d, 44-0-0

Council: Gotham Center (C 110225PPQ – mod. dispo.); (M020381(A) ZSQ – mod. spec. perm.) (July 28, 2011)
(Architect: Gensler).

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