Despite outcry at a Community Board 2 meeting, Borough President Helen Marshall on Friday approved a proposal which would allow for a significant reduction in the number of parking spots at 28-10 Queens Plaza South, the Gotham Center office tower.
The land, which is owned by the city, is now home to the city’s Health Department. An old parking facility at the location was put out of service in 2008.
Developer Tishman Speyer had initially agreed to create 1,150 parking spaces, but is proposing to instead maintain 550 spots. The garage would incorporate 162 existing spaces and add 388 during the construction of the second office tower.
Members of CB 2 were outraged that the city would consider reducing spaces when the already-congested area is expected to swell with an influx of new employees and residents. On April 7, they voted 24 to 12 to prevent the reduction.
An application submitted by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services claims the former garage was underutilized, but admits this was largely because it was inaccessible, in a federally designated traffic hot spot and used primarily by city officials.
Studies show that the proposed 550 parking spaces “will meet the need and demand” of the proposed office towers and the area, according to the DCAS.
A consultant’s study found that within one quarter of a mile of the site there are 1,000 public parking spaces that are used at a rate of 87 percent during midday peak times.
It is often impossible to find parking in the area, and though Long Island City residents have complained about lack of parking for years, when it comes to the old garage, according to the city application, “there has not been many complaints about the loss of those spaces.”
At a public hearing at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 28, in the Borough President’s Conference Room in Kew Gardens, three people spoke in favor of removing the parking. No one spoke against.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) represents the area and said he is not yet sure how he will vote regarding the parking, which must still be approved by the City Council. “I am concerned about the loss of parking spaces and possible reduction here, but it is far from a done deal,” Van Bramer said. “I look forward to meeting with the city’s Economic Development Corp. and other members of the community to discuss it.”