The owners of 62-04 Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside are requesting a zoning variance to build a 13-story building, taller than the nine stories permitted under the current zoning.
The rezoning’s co-applicants – Astoria-based developer Woodside 63 Management LLC and the local dance and theater non-profit Mare Nostrum Elements, INC. – discussed the potential benefits of the project at Wednesday’s virtual hearing.
“With Mare Nostrum’s assistance, we began engaging with the community about five years ago,” said Steve Lysohir from Woodside 63’s ownership team. “We heard several priorities. Affordable housing, particularly so close to mass transit, is key to the community’s successful future
“Woodside deserves attractive architecture that fits in with the neighborhood around it,” he added. “Many arts organizations have been pushed out of their homes, and so we were inclined to include them based on feedback from Mare Nostrum.”
The proposed mixed-use development would function as both a residential building and community center.
In accordance with the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, the owners of 62-04 Roosevelt are working to ensure that 25 percent of the apartments (54 of the planned 213 units) will be affordable.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Mare Nostrum Elements co-founder Kevin Albert also spoke at length about the nonprofit’s plan to make the new building a haven for local artists.
“We hope the development will be a space for people in the community,” Albert said. “The current model of performance art spaces in the city does not work. The pandemic has shown us that.”
The plans for 62-04 Roosevelt include studio and performance spaces for dance groups, musicians, and artists. Woodside 63 and Mare Nostrum plan on lending the space to local community groups for free rehearsals and then renting the space to other groups to raise more revenue.
Mare Nostrum also hopes on holding its own community-focused dance and art classes in the space as well.
In addition to housing and community amenities, much of Wednesday’s hearing was focused on transportation and sustainability. The site is located in close proximity to the 61st Street Station on the 7 train, which lends itself to transit-oriented development.
“We also know this is a very climate-conscious community,” Lysohir explained. “One of the most important steps local governments can take to combat climate change is to promote density near mass transit.”
Lysohir also discussed the increase in Citi Bikes in the area, and expressed Woodside 63’s interest in working with community leaders to create more bike lanes in the neighborhood.
The developer also has plans to implement energy-saving aspects to its design, including solar-panels, high-efficiency cooling and heating, and high-performance insulated windows.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the developer also plans on reducing high-touch surfaces throughout the building.
The current single-story structure at 62-04 Roosevelt Avenue has been home to a series of struggling businesses. Lysohir and the Astoria-based Woodside 63 Management are hoping to revitalize the site.
If the variance isn’t approved, the developer still plans on constructing a nine-story, smaller version of the project that is allowed under the current zoning.