Queens Community Board 6 rejected a developer’s rezoning application that seeks to replace a popular Rego Park diner and synagogue on Queens Boulevard with a 15-story mixed-use building.
The board, which represents the neighborhoods of Rego Park and Forest Hills, voted 20 to 19 against the plan during a virtual meeting on Dec. 8.
The plan calls for the demolition of several buildings on a large triangular block — occupied by the Tower Diner, Ohr Natan Synagogue and various small businesses — to make way for apartments and retail space.
The application, submitted by RJ Capital Holdings, proposes constructing a 153,400-square-foot building at 98-81 Queens Blvd that would include 17,400 square feet of retail space and 144 units — 44 of which would be “affordable” pursuant to the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirement. The plan requires the site to be rezoned and therefore must be approved by the city before it can move forward.
However, neither the community board nor the city can stop RJ Capital from demolishing the buildings — and putting up a new development — since the property is not landmarked. The community board is only able to provide a yes or no recommendation on the developer’s upzoning plans, not its demolition plans.
RJ Capital can build an apartment complex — albeit smaller — as of right. In fact, the company said it would construct a 103-unit building with zero affordable apartments if its rezoning application were to be rejected.
The local community board is the first to review and vote on the plan in the process used by the city to assess rezoning applications — the Uniform Land Use Review Process.
Next, it goes to the borough president, who offers his own recommendation on the plan.
Both Community Board 6’s vote and Richards’ future recommendation are only advisory. The City Council has the ultimate say as to whether RJ Capital’s rezoning application gets approved.
The advisory recommendations, however, do influence how the city council votes.