Developers from Jasper Venture Group and Auberge Grand Central presented their plans to transform the former hospital into a two-building development for senior citizens and young families at last Wednesday's CB 6 meeting.
One 14-story building will be market rate apartment, which will subsidize the units set aside for seniors.
The first building, which will replace the hospital, will include 135 units for seniors who fall within 70 to 115 percent of the area’s median income. A one-bedroom unit will go for $1,370 while studios will go for $1,279.
“It’s not as cheap as it would be if the government was subsidizing it,” said Eric Palatnik, a lawyer for the developers. “But it’s cheaper than a lot of what you’d find in the marketplace.
“We’re creating affordable housing for people on a fixed budget that don’t have the wiggle room and need to know in the next 10 years what they’re rent is going to be,” he added. “This puts them into a rent-stabilized situation.”
The building will include medical uses on the ground floor, storage facilities, and workout center.
The current Parkway Hospital is six stories high, but it will increase to eight under the proposal. Developers also want to build a 14-story market-rate building on the old hospital parking lot.
“In an exchange for us building a fully affordable senior housing development, we’re asking you to grant us the permission to build a market-rate, 14-story building in the back parking lot,” said Palatnik. “We’re hoping that by orienting the building there, we’re not disrupting your community.”
Residents would enter the market-rate development from the Grand Central Parkway service road. A parking garage will include 180 parking spaces.
Of the 216 market-rate units, 43 will be two-bedroom units while the rest will be either one bedroom or studios.
“We know that there is a school next to us, and we’ve heard concerns from PS 196,” Palatnik said. “We don’t believe this development would be a burden on the local schools because there’s only going to be 43 two-bedroom apartments.”
Plans also call for a shuttle service so residents can get to public transportation on Queens Boulevard.
Despite support from the board, some local parents still raised concerns over the overcrowding at PS 196.
Victoria Trainer wants to see the proposed 4,000-square-foot community space at the development transformed into classrooms.
“Everyone knows that Forest Hills elementary schools are excellent, and that’s why young families are moving in and bringing new life into the neighborhood,” Trainer said. “Why else would a family want to move into a market-rate apartment overlooking a highway and a good walk from the subway, if not for being right next door to one of the best schools in Queens?”
Trainer said three classes are located in rented space at the synagogue next door, and children are waitlisted even though they are zoned for the school.
“An expansion for P.S. 196 is in design phase, but the expansion is to meet the existing needs, not for additional children,” Trainer said.
Board member Alexa Weitzman suggested adding affordable housing units to the market-rate building, but Palatnik insisted the developer couldn’t do both, so chose to focus on affordable senior housing.
“There’s simply not enough financial resources to help everybody,” Palatnik said.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said she would like to see the development go forward with some changes, including plan for a new school.
But she also acknowledged that affordable senior housing is a huge issue in the district.
“I can’t begin to tell you how many calls I get in my office from seniors who are about to be evicted because their rent went up,” she said. “We have to save our seniors because the rents are going up and they can’t afford to pay.”