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Landmarks Dept. Delays Vote on Jackson Heights Historic District Addition

By Katie Honan | August 12, 2015 8:17am
 The corner of 37th Avenue and 85th Street in Jackson Heights, where the owner filed to build a building on the roof.
The corner of 37th Avenue and 85th Street in Jackson Heights, where the owner filed to build a building on the roof.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

JACKSON HEIGHTS — Developers behind a controversial bid to construct apartments above a one-story building in the Historic District presented their plan to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the first time on Tuesday — and were told to come back at a later date with more information.

Charles Knight, a project manager from Architects Studio PC, showed renderings for the planned four-story addition on top of 84-11 37th Ave., in Jackson Heights' Historic District, at the Manhattan hearing.

Developers have presented the plan to Community Board 3 five times in two years, they said, but after the board unanimously voted against it in April, developers decided to present to Landmarks for the first time, they said.

Dozens of residents showed up to oppose the project, armed with letters, printouts of emails and petitions, with more than 1,000 signatures. Critics who spoke out at Tuesday's hearing —  including Councilman Danny Dromm, local real estate agent and neighborhood historian Daniel Karatzas, Community Board 3 members and longtime residents — warned the construction plan is out of character for the area. 

"The Commission should honor the vision of the original planners of the Jackson Heights community, the intent of the 1993 Landmark designation, and the broad community opposition to this plan," Dromm said.  

Officials from the Landmarks Preservation Commission suggested the developers bring more information about other multi-story buildings in the area to a future hearing. 

Many were curious about the original intent for the low-density commercial strip of 37th Avenue, part of the planned community designed and built by the Queensboro Corporation.

They also suggested the commissioners visit Jackson Heights' historic district to observe other tall buildings in the area.

After the hearing, which lasted hours, many residents said they felt relieved at how everything went, despite not having a resolution.

"It's a moral victory," CB 3 member Edwin Westley said. 

The date of the next public hearing has not been scheduled yet, officials said.