65-Unit Rental Building Planned for 34-22 35th Street, Astoria

34-22 35th Street (vacant lot at center), image from Bing Maps34-22 35th Street (vacant lot at center), image from Bing Maps

With land prices in Long Island City rising, rental builders have been all but priced out of the gateway to Queens in favor of more luxurious condos. But stay on the train for a few more stops, and land is still cheap enough for rental buildings to pencil out.

Developer Peter Volandes found one such piece of land at 34-22 35th Street, in the area of Queens variously known as Astoria, Dutch Kills, and Long Island City. There, mid-way between the 36th Avenue N/Q station and the Steinway Street M/R, he plans to build a seven-story, 65-unit rental apartment building.

Designed by Kutnicki Bernstein Architects, the apartments will be spread over 44,000 square feet of space, for an average unit size of under 700 square feet – 11 apartments on each of the floors above the ground floor, and six on the penthouse level. The building will feature a small 1,000-square foot retail space, in addition to a 33-car garage as required by zoning.

The site sits across the street from Kaufman Astoria Studios, a historic movie studio spanning several city blocks to the east. When the spot rezoning that enabled the project was passed in 2008 (it only covers half a block around the site), the City Planning Commission wrote that project would “provide additional housing for studio employees as well as actors and other personnel affiliated with the film and television industry.”

At the time, however, the lot was to be developed by Kaufman Astoria Studios in conjunction with Damroc Realty, though Volandes appears to be a new owner who will likely have different plans. No new deed has been filed, but the building for which plans were filed will not have 7,800 square feet of ground floor retail as was the plan when the land was rezoned, nor (mercifully) a garage with one parking space for every housing unit.

The rest of the half-block is also open to development on a similar scale – to the north now sits a grocery store, and to the south a small wood-frame building and a four-story prewar building with a surface lot – but that’s where the opportunities for growth stop. The blocks to the west are only zoned for residential uses of half the density, whileblocks to the east are occupied by Kaufman Astoria Studios — and while the zoning is there for higher commercial and industrial densities, the demand is not.

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