Variance for hotel granted

Owner claimed that lot’s irregular shape and close proximity to Queensboro Bridge entrance ramp limited development choices. Royal One Real Estate LLC applied to BSA for a variance to build a 12-story, 99-unit hotel at 42-59 Crescent Street, an irregularly shaped vacant lot in Long Island City, Queens. During the hearing process, the owner modified and reduced the 35,109 sq.ft. project in order to build a 10-story building with 88 hotel units. The owner still required a variance because the project would exceed the M1-5/R7-3 zoning district’s permitted floor area by 5,493 sq.ft.

At BSA, the owner claimed the lot was inappropriate for a residential use because it is adjacent to a noisy and heavily-travelled Queensboro Bridge entrance ramp overpass. The owner argued that the 4,414 sq.ft. lot’s small size and irregular shape would limit the number of rooms per floor and submitted a study demonstrating that an as-of-right hotel development would generate a negative rate of return. The owner further argued that the site’s close proximity to below ground MTA construction created additional hardship due to the development costs needed to avoid adversely affecting the MTA construction.

BSA granted the variance, finding that the owner could not develop a complying building that would provide a reasonable economic return. It disagreed that the subsurface MTA construction should be considered a unique physical condition, pointing out that the construction affected a significant number of other properties in the area. However, BSA acknowledged that the additional costs associated with avoiding adversely affecting the subsurface construction were legitimate costs that would factor into its analysis of the owner’s ability to realize a reasonable rate of return.

BSA: 42-59 Crescent Street, Queens (173-08-BZ) (Aug. 25, 2009) (Rothkrug, Rothkrug & Spector, for Royal One Real Estate LLC). CITYADMIN

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