Council clears path to replace Whitestone Lanes with housing

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By Dan Sears

Time is ticking for bowling fans in Northern Queens.

The City Council has approved a rezoning plan that will replace the beloved Whitestone Lanes bowling alley with hundreds of new apartments. It was the last approval needed on a project that was proposed years ago.

Councilmember Sandra Ung, who represents the district, said the space is nostalgic to many in the community, but she’s spoken to the owners, and said they’re ready to move on.

“There’s a certain amount of sadness that the business is leaving the community. But at the same time, it is really what the owner wants. They didn’t want to operate this business anymore, however they wanted to make sure they left something behind, like housing,” Ung said.

The project will include 415 units of housing, and roughly 30% of it will be considered “affordable” at an average of 80% area median income or lower. At least 50% of the affordable units must be two bedrooms or more to accommodate the growing number of families in the area, according to the decision.

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Before hitting the Council, the plan received other approvals from the community board, city planning commission and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who asked for more affordable units as a condition to his support. In a statement Thursday, Richards said the project will bring much-needed housing to the area.

“There is only one way to solve the housing crisis Queens and New York City as a whole faces — building. And that’s what we’ll be doing alongside our organized labor brothers and sisters here in Flushing, where affordable housing is in steep demand,” Richards said.

The project also includes deals with labor unions — during construction, a projected 30 jobs with the city District Council of Carpenters and then once it’s complete, five to six full-time property service jobs with 32BJ.

A construction timeline that hasn’t yet been established, but Richards said he’s looking forward to breaking ground “in the near future.”

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