Sunnyside, Queens (source: Dept. of City Planning)
The City Council today approved the rezoning of Sunnyside and Woodside, which aims to protect the lower-density character of those neighborhoods while allowing for a moderate increase in residential and commercial density along main corridors, according to the Department of City Planning.
Encompassing about 130 city blocks, the zoning area had been unchanged since 1961. With the neighborhood growing and becoming more diverse, the current zoning can result in unpredictable building types leading to out-of-character construction, according to the Department of City Planning. The Department notes that the pace of development in Sunnyside and Woodside has increased in recent years, in large part due to its close proximity to Manhattan, attractive and well-kept streetscapes, and convenient commercial corridors such as Queens Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue.
The new zoning aims to direct new housing opportunities to major corridors and mass transit, as well as provide zoning incentives for the provision of affordable housing.
In addition, the change reinforces existing patterns of commercial uses, removes zoning restrictions for small, unenclosed sidewalk cafés along Queens Boulevard, and allows only small unenclosed sidewalk cafés along Skillman Avenue.
City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the area, welcomed the passage.
Allowing the cafes on Queens Boulevard and Skillman Avenue “will aid small businesses along these thoroughfares by increasing the walkability of those streets, bringing added vibrancy to these commercial strips,” he said in a statement. With regards to the other changes, he noted that, “in Queens, we’ve all witnessed too many teardowns of one- and two-story homes only to be replaced by large, multi-unit dwellings that don’t fit the scale of surrounding homes.”
The changes complement earlier rezonings in Maspeth and Woodside in 2006 and revised zoning regulations that were updated in 2009 that regulate development in Sunnyside Gardens, according to the Department of City Planning.
— Miranda Neubauer