Marc Esrig and Lynette Tulkoff are combining two commercial properties at 75-08 and 75-26 Broadway into a single retail complex. Permits list Jacqueline M. Velez of JMV Architect, PLLC as the designer. RAF Construction & Development Corp. is providing contracting services. The 7,918-square-foot complex faces one of the borough’s busiest transit hubs, where the 74th Street/Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue station connects the E, F, M, R and 7 trains, and the Victor A. Moore Bus Terminal services six bus routes and the Q70 Select Bus Service to LaGuardia Airport.
The 1917 opening of the elevated IRT Flushing Line ushered in a wave of development that transformed the surrounding countryside. In 1933, the station was joined by the terminus of the IND Queens Boulevard Line, built along an old country road that was paved and re-dedicated as Broadway. The two buildings, which span addresses from 75-02 to 75-26 Broadway, were erected around 1940 as part of a new commercial district growing around the transit hub.
The single-story 75-08 Broadway faces the angled intersection, stretching 126 linear feet along Broadway. The 97-foot-long 75th Street frontage abuts a subway entrance. Construction permits indicate that the building spans 5,851 square feet.
The triangular lot at 75-26 Broadway measures just 52 feet long and 40 feet deep, and spans 1,042 square feet. The two-story building features a 65-foot-long storefront with offices on the second floor. Permits list the structure at 2,067 square feet.
Most of the eleven retail tenants (nine at 75-08 Broadway and two at 75-26 Broadway) were part of the Korean business community. Construction permits were filed in July 2016, around the same time as the tenants left the premises. The project is well past the fall 2016 occupancy date listed at the site. Summer 2017 completion, indicated on project boards, is plausible only if construction continues at a robust pace.
Renderings, posted by Schuckman Realty in 2015, show the hodge-podge of storefronts and signs will be replaced with a uniform storefront array beneath a renovated brick parapet, with expanded windows at the second story of 75-26 Broadway. The project revitalizes the aging structures and presents a cleaner commercial façade to the busy commercial district at the junction of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.
75-08 Broadway’s floor-to-area ratio of 1.0, and 75-26 Broadway’s corresponding figure of 2.0, mean that the site, located within the C2-3 commercial overlay upon the R6B residential district, is underbuilt and could accommodate a structure several times larger than the current project. In comparison, the 4,212-square-foot site at 74-10 Broadway half a block to the west spans just 61 percent of the 6,893-square-foot lot at the new retail complex, and features 27,066 square feet within six stories.
The renovation extends the life expectancy of the aging structures until the next development cycle, which would hopefully take place under updated zoning regulations that engage the full potential of the important location. According to the MTA, 17.2 million riders used the 74th Street/Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue station in 2015, making it the 14th busiest of the city’s 472 subway stations. The average annual ridership growth of 286,000 riders over the past three years shows the commercial district’s potential.
Several years ago, the complex intersection of Broadway, Roosevelt Avenue, 73rd and 34th Streets, and 37th Road was redesigned to implement safety improvements, streamline traffic flow, and convert redundant road segments into public space. The block-long pedestrianized stretch of 37th Road, re-dedicated in 2016 as Diversity Plaza to recognize the surrounding multi-ethnic community, rapidly became an important public space that houses community events. The remaining three-block stretch of the road presents possibilities for future pedestrian expansion.
City planners ought to revise the area’s restrictive zoning to allow development that is appropriate for this transit-rich location, in a borough primed for continued residential and commercial growth.