The proposed Kew Gardens parking garage could be the first in New York City to be certified for its sustainability.
Project architects revealed the goal of achieving Parksmart-certified status to the Queens Borough Board at its May 10 meeting. Parksmart is the world’s only certification program that defines, measures and recognizes high-performing, sustainable garages. Only two buildings in the state have been awarded the certification, both of which are in Ithaca.
“In terms of sustainability, the project is targeting a lead certification — actually a lead gold standard — mainly focused upon energy use, rainwater harvesting and the material selection for the building,” Scott Demel of Marvel, the project architects, reported Monday evening. “We believe for the parking garage itself, in terms of electrical use, it may approach net zero.”
Charging stations for electric vehicles are also included in the plans for the 600-space parking garage. Developers also said there is a capacity to include space for scooters and other vehicles as the project advances.
The project also includes plans for a community facility that would be “independent” from the garage both visually and structurally, Demel said. The space will have its own presence that will be complimented by the area’s trees and Borough Hall’s three stories.
The parking garage and community space will lie adjacent to the new borough jail, one of the five smaller city jails meant to replace Rikers Island. Construction on the jail is set to begin in 2023, which coincides with construction completion on the parking garage.
Right now, the city Department of Design and Construction is crafting a temporary parking lot of 140 spaces that the public can use until the new garage is up and running.
“We put up some fencing, we separated the current parking lot into two. That will continue throughout May. That’s ongoing,” said Jeffrey Margolies, DDC’s intergovernmental and community affairs executive director. “We expect excavation for the garage once the temporary parking lot is set up. That’ll start this summer, followed by steel erection in the fall and construction will continue until the first quarter of 2023.”
City Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) raised concern that the temporary parking lot, which Margolies said was open for public use, was not actually available. A constituent called her office earlier that day and complained she had to find street parking in the surrounding neighborhood.
“We don’t want this. We don’t want cars going into the communities to look for parking spots,” she said.
Margolies and Demel admitted only one — the 82nd street entrance — of the two access points were available. The second egress is closed off because of construction.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards requested the developers post adequate signage to clue drivers in on parking spots. He also requested they include updates regularly in the form of newsletters. The request for increased community communication quelled Koslowitz ’s worries.
“I don’t want headaches with this. I’ve had enough headaches with this project since day one and I don’t want anymore,” she said.