Residents of a Kew Gardens apartment complex are fighting to stop the construction of a new building they say will dwarf their homes and wreak havoc on local traffic.
The proposed building, to be located in Pasta Lovers’ parking lot on 82nd Avenue, is designed to reach 284 feet — 21 stories — and will have 41 units and 47 parking spaces. The owner is listed as Gus Karayianis, of Forge Realty, on the Department of Buildings’ Web site.
Those most opposed to the project live in a six-story residential complex located just behind the development site. While multi-story buildings are not unheard of near Queens Boulevard, these residents say the structure, as well as the construction work, will have a huge negative impact on the community. “He’s bulldozing over our dreams,” said Natalie Dauphin of the developer. “We need the community to stand together and fight this.
During a rally held Thursday, the residents held signs stating: “We don’t want dangerous cranes here,” and, “stop this construction now,” all while Joel Landy sung protest songs like “We Shall Not Be Moved,” accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar.
Janice Dillman, who lives in the nearby apartment building, first heard rumors of the project in April. Then, in late June, a construction crew started digging a hole in the parking lot.
The project has hardly progressed since, as the DOB placed a stop work order on the property July 18 for having no approved plans and inadequate guard rails surrounding the excavation site.
In addition to the height of the building, protesters said it would complicate parking, overwhelm storm sewers and increase pollution in the area. The lengthy construction work is also a concern. While 82nd Avenue is just off the busy and wide Queens Boulevard, it’s a one-way street that buses come down constantly.
Residents wonder how traffic will be impacted if a crane is in the area. In addition, residents worry about the presence of a crane, as they have been tied to a number of deaths in both the city and the nation this year.
Dauphin said the construction project was causing cracks in their building and was worried that, once work really got under way, it could jeopardize their safety.
The DOB has examined the cracks and does not believe they were caused by the work next door.
Paul Graziano, an urban planning consultant, said if the street wasn’t a bus route, and if there wasn’t a school around the corner, the building might be suitable. “There are a couple of tall buildings nearby, but this is out of context,” he said. “It will have an enormous negative impact on the area.”
Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) attended the rally and blasted the DOB for allowing such a project in an inappropriate location, eroding the quality of life of the current residents.
He also criticized the department for having weak penalties when developers skirt the law. The punishment for starting construction without the city first approving the plans should be so strong that it doesn’t happen, he said. Instead, the developer will probably file a plan, the DOB will approve it and construction will get back on track.
“I’m not against development, but let it be an asset to a neighborhood and not a monstrosity,” he said.
Karayianis, the owner, could not be reached for comment prior to press time.