Woodside Coalition to Defend Little Manila Updates

Community Board 2 delivered a huge blow to the proposed mega church project in Woodside last night, voting unanimously to oppose the rezoning application requested by the church.

The Universal Church, which has been located at 63-08 Roosevelt Avenue for more than 20 years, has been seeking a Board of Standards and Appeals variance to allow it to build a new six-story, nearly 70,000 square foot building since last summer.

The proposed building would be erected on the site next to the existing church. The existing church would be demolished.

The current zoning of the proposed site does not permit buildings to be more than 45 feet tall and requires them to be at least 30 feet from the property line. The variance requested would alter those requirements, allowing the church to build a 79 feet tall structure and permit it to be within 10 feet from the property line at the rear of the site.

After hearing from several elected officials and hours of passionate testimony both in favor and against the church, Community Board 2 voted Existing church structure/site unanimously to oppose the church’s proposal. –Sunnyside Post (Feb. 2017)

“What we tried to do is accommodate all of the community’s concerns and balance that with the programmatic needs of the church,” said Nelson Canter, an attorney for the church.

But the plan had a number of opponents who worried how the project would impact the surrounding neighborhood, which includes Little Manila, a commercial hub of Filipino shops and restaurants.

Critics worried that a larger church would take parking spots away from local businesses and that the three-year construction of the new building would be a disrupting to neighbors.

Others feared it would open a wave of new construction to the neighborhood and displace existing residents and businesses.

“We see it as a deeper issue and a pattern that has been happening all over New York City,” said Christine Fabro, a member of the Coalition to Defend Woodside and Little Manila.

She said that while big new developments “look pretty” they attract other developers who see it and are “encouraged to build more things.”

“What ends up happening is that people who are originally from these communities — and this one in particular in Woodside is a primarily immigrant and working class community — will eventually get pushed out because rents will rise,” she said.

While CB2 voted against the plan, their recommendation is only advisory. The Board of Standards and Appeals will make a final determination on the project. DNAinfo (Feb 2017)