QUEENS — Relief is on the way for Kew Gardens' drivers.
The neighborhood that's famous for its lack of parking will get a new municipal parking lot next year, directly behind Queens Borough Hall. It will feature 302 parking spaces, local officials said during a groundbreaking ceremony Monday.
The new lot, located between Union Turnpike and 82nd Avenue on 126th Street, will serve Queens Borough Hall and the nearby Queens Criminal Court building.
It replaces the old 500-spot parking garage which was abruptly shuttered in September 2014 due to structural safety concerns.
After the closure of the four-story structure that was built in 1963, drivers were forced to turn to nearby streets in Kew Gardens, Briarwood and Forest Hills for spots.
“It is a hub of activity here in Queens,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, adding that when the Department of Transportation announced in Sept. 2014 that the old garage had to be shuttered without warning, "we were all quite stunned, to say the least."
The city's Department of Transportation provided about 50 additional parking spots in the area while officials worked to design the new parking lot, according to Queens Transportation Commissioner Nicole Garcia.
But local business owners say the loss of 450 spots has been detrimental.
“Both parking and the traffic have gotten much worse in Kew Gardens [since the garage closed],” said Renee Levine of the Kew Gardens Civic Association.
The 122,360 square foot lot, which will be regulated by parking meters, will also include a designated area for motorcycles and bicycles, sitting areas, ADA ramp access and four electric vehicle charging stations, officials said.
Recycled asphalt will be used to build the surface at the lot, which will also be home to more than 120 species of native plants and trees in green spaces throughout the area.
"The new parking lot ...will be beautifully lit and landscaped and environmentally sustainable,” said Katz, who also provided funds to install security cameras there.
Levine said the relief can’t come soon enough for the neighborhood.
"We hope it will help."