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City unveils three new Queens rezonings

Three major Queens rezoning proposals were introduced to the City Planning Commission Monday, starting the seven-month approval process for projects that would change the face of northern and western parts of the borough while preserving its southern coastline. The city Economic Development Corporation presented plans to redevelop industrial and manufacturing zones in Hunters Point South and Willets Point, which if approved would pave the way for more than 10,000 housing units and millions of square footage of retail and office space.

City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden unveiled a sprawling rezoning plan for 280 blocks of the Rockaway Peninsula, which would seek to protect the area from "helter-skelter development."

"The start of the public approval processes for these three plans signals a major step forward in our five-borough plan to revitalize the waterfront, create mixed-use neighborhoods on once blighted or underutilized land, and protect existing neighborhoods from overdevelopment," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The Hunters Point South rezoning would convert a 30-acre manufacturing district along the East River Waterfront to space for residential and commercial development. The city hopes to use the space for more than 5,000 housing units, of which Bloomberg said 60 percent would be affordable to middle-class families.

The Willets Point Redevelopment plan would create a special zoning district for the area, which would also convert existing manufacturing zoning to residential and commercial space. The developer slated to be selected following the approval process would be required to design the space within the city's framework for 5,500 housing units and more than 2 million square feet of retail and office space.

Burden said the Rockaway rezoning plan, meanwhile, was drawn up to preserve the character of five neighborhoods on the peninsula Far Rockaway, Edgemere, Somerville, Rockaway Park and Rockaway Beach.

"The Rockaway peninsula has evolved from a summertime destination to a series of unique and varied oceanfront communities, but today's zoning is outdated and does not relate to the area's existing built character," said Burden. "Working closely with the community, we have developed a comprehensive proposal that reflects and enhances the Rockaways' magnificent seashore location and protects the beloved Rockaway bungalows."

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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