L.I.C. strife over CUNY dorm plans
BY BRENDAN BROSH
DAILY NEWS WRITER
A developer is looking to build a dormitory and mixed-use building that will bring some 200 CUNY students to Long Island City.
The initial proposal, which called for a 13-story residential building on Fifth St. with 169 apartments, ground-floor retail and 220 grad-student dormitory units, was unanimously rejected by Community Board 2's land use committee in November.
Now the owner, OCA LIC, plans to reintroduce the plan this spring, and has offered space to the Queens Council on the Arts to sweeten the deal, sources told the Queens News.
"We think we weren't as sensitive as we should have been in the past presentation," said Sid Davidoff, a spokesman for OCA. "We're going to spend millions of dollars to clean up the contaminated site. We're adding to the community, not taking away."
But some locals are still unhappy about the proposal, noting the neighborhood shouldn't become a "bedroom community" for transient residents.
"We don't need a dorm here," said Terri Mona Adams of the Hunters Point Community Development Corp. "We need people who want to build a future here."
Some locals said they were also troubled by the magnitude of the project in a neighborhood where condos have already proliferated in recent years.
"There's a dumptruck going down our block every five minutes. The scope and size of the project is out of whack," said William Garrett, a father of three and head of the 47 to 47 Residents Group in Hunters Point.
A CUNY spokesman said the building will house doctoral candidates, some of whom will be living with their families.
"These are not undergraduate or even master's level students," said Michael Arena, a spokesman for CUNY. "They're Ph.D. candidates. They generally spend more than four years living, studying and preparing for their doctoral theses."
Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley wrote in November that the initial proposal "does not conform to current zoning and will do nothing to enhance the community."
The development takes advantage of a loophole that allows them to skirt zoning restrictions as long as the building has a "community use."
Councilman Tony Avella, an outspoken critic of the provision, said he is disturbed with the number of dormitories slated to be built in Queens.
"There are so many loopholes that allow developers to build whatever they want," said Avella. "Everywhere you turn around there's another institution that wants to expand at the expense of a community."
Community groups have vowed to fight the project.
"We don't need people coming here and dictating to us," said Adams. "The neighborhood doesn't want it."
A new hearing for the proposal is expected sometime in the spring, according to the city Board of Standards and Appeals.
Does anyone think BSA is going to vote against CUNY? I mean, come on. I like how it will be for doctoral students. Who's to say it won't change to undergrads after a year?
Photo from Curbed