Background, zoning

Commercial zoning in the latest draft proposal

Jimmy Van Bramer’s staff got an updated version of the zoning proposal, dated May 19, and passed the maps on to Christian Murray, who posted them on his Sunnyside Post blog.

The main differences I could find between the February maps that I posted previously and these May maps all relate to commercial zoning along Greenpoint and Roosevelt Avenues.

To understand this, you need to know about commercial overlays. These are zoning districts that are established along avenues for retail businesses serving the neighborhood. They only extend 100-200 feet back from the street. The districts that start with C1- are meant to be 1-2 story buildings, and the ones that start with C2- are a bit higher, and the ones starting with C4- are significantly higher. The second number indicates parking minima, where the ones that end in -1 require lots of parking, those that end in -2 a bit more, and so on.

These avenues currently (PDF) have a commercial overlay C1-2 from 41st to 44th Streets and from 59th to 65th Street, and C2-2 from 50th to 58th and from 65th to the BQE. There is also a district (not an overlay) from 47th Avenue to half a block north of Queens Boulevard and from 44th through 48th Streets that is zoned C4-2.

The February revision of the proposal (PDF) would have changed the overlay from 41st to 44th to C1-3, the overlay from 52nd through 59th and from 65th to the BQE to C2-4, and the overlay from 59th through 65th to C1-4. The area from 47th Avenue to just north of Queens Boulevard was split into a C4-5X zone along Queens Boulevard and a C4-4A zone along Greenpoint and 47th Avenues.

The May 19 draft that Christian posted does away with the commercial zone along Queens Boulevard. Now the area south of the Boulevard is a solid R6A district with a C1-4 overlay along Greenpoint Avenue. That C1-4 overlay continues along Roosevelt Avenue, pretty much all the way to 65th Street.

Overall, I think this change is good. In C1-4 districts, parking requirements are waived unless at least 40 spaces are required. For a supermarket or other retail store, it would have to be at least 40,000 square feet (two-thirds the size of the Stop and Shop on 48th Street) to require any parking at all. That’s an improvement over the C1-3 district, which would require 25 parking spaces to be built for a supermarket over 7500 square feet. Ideally, I would prefer C1-5 which has almost no parking requirement at all, but I’d much rather work to get the R4 and R4-1 districts upgraded to R5B. I might prefer more commercial density, but I’m focusing on parking in this discussion.

I’m planning to attend the meeting this Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 at Sunnyside Community Services. If you’re planning to go and want to coordinate with me, send me an email or leave a comment!

grvsmth (Author)

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