In recent weeks, construction fencing has risen around the single-story commercial building at 31-07 38th Avenue. The former auto shop is set to be transformed into retail space and grow by five additional stories, housing 12 residential units. The project is part of a real estate boom in Dutch Kills in northeast Long Island City, where many new developments place residences above light manufacturing spaces and workshops. Kayafas Contracting acts as both developer and builder. Flushing-based Kyu Lee Architect, P.C. is behind the design.
The 1909 completion of the nearby Queensboro Bridge and the 1917 opening of the elevated Astoria Line, which runs half a block west of the site, spurred rapid residential and manufacturing growth in the area. A Remedial Investigation Report, prepared by Athenica Environmental Services in July 2015, traces the site’s history of light manufacturing and auto service to at least 1939. An auto service facility operated at the site until late 2016.
The new building permit, filed in December 2014, calls for 16,324 square feet to be added to the existing 5,463-sqaure-foot structure, boosting the site’s built-up floor-to-area ratio by 2.92. The section diagram provided by the Department of Buildings shows that a commercial space with high ceilings would take up the bulk of the ground floor. Six parking spaces and a minor residential component would share the second floor. Apartments that span floors three through six would feature approximately 10-foot-tall ceilings. Permits allocate 12,340 square feet for residential use, resulting in an average unit size of 1,028 square feet.
The building would rise 70 feet to the parapet, reaching the maximum allowable height imposed by current zoning restrictions. A bulkhead sits at the rooftop, and a chimney brings the total structural height to 83 feet. The sixth floor setback terrace would open upon panoramic vistas of the growing Court Square skyline to the south and Midtown to the west.
A metal cornice above the ground floor, soldier brick courses above and below the windows, and ornamental faux balconies on floors three through five decorate the austere brick façade. The glass storefront creates transparency at the pedestrian level. Elimination of large garage doors dramatically reduces the size of the curb cut. Two new trees would bring much-needed shade and greenery to the block. Retail would add vibrancy to a neighborhood where hundreds of new apartments are slated to be constructed upon the surrounding blocks in the coming years.
The 2008 Dutch Kills rezoning spurred a flurry of real estate activity in a neighborhood that has seen little change over the past hundred years. Foundations are in progress across the street at seven-story 31-12 38th Avenue, where 19 units would sit atop a film production studio. Six-story, 19-unit 32-04 38th Avenue awaits completion half a block east. The four-story vertical expansion of the two-story commercial building at 33-01 38th Avenue a block further east would bring 94 residences. Mixed-use developments at 37-27 31st Street, 37-21 32nd Street, 37-29 33rd Street, and 37-14 34th Street, in progress immediately north, would add seven six- and seven-story structures, boasting a combined total of 287 residences situated atop commercial and manufacturing spaces. Ten-story, 428-unit 30-17 40th Avenue nears completion a block south.
The above-mentioned projects cluster around the 39th Avenue station of the N and W trains, which place Midtown within two subway stops. The density boost is appropriate for the underdeveloped area, yet the 70-foot height limit unreasonably restricts development options within the up-and-coming neighborhood, where taller buildings may free the ground level for much-needed public space.