A unique site presents a unique opportunity.
Located along the busy thoroughfare of Astoria Boulevard, where significant commercial and residential structures intertwine, you will find our latest mixed use development; complex in planning and design. The East Elmhurst neighborhood, located in the northwest section of Queens near Flushing Bay Promenade, LaGuardia Airport and Citi Field is a desirable neighborhood for new development. The unique development of Elmhurst Terrace started with complex zoning lot merger and subdivision, followed by many hours of research to best utilize the space and maximize rent-ability.
Merging and sub dividing the original four tax lots to create one lot with five separate tax lots, and a separate one with one tax lot. Our client came to us having purchased four separate lots adjacent to one another. The lots were a mixture of single family residence, a garage, and two were vacant. Our client did not have a clear vision of what he wanted other than not wanting a high rise building. We faced many challenges starting with the irregular shape and depth of the lots. This challenge was overcome by merging and subdividing the lots to achieve the best possible outcome. Our challenge was to manipulate the lots in a way that would enable us to introduce and optimize mixed use, with all zoning parameters and aforementioned site constraints. We combined all four build-able lots, and with thorough zoning analysis, concluded the best option for our client; 2 zoning lots, one with 5 tax lots and another with one zoning and tax lot. Through strategic sub dividing and merging lots, we were able to meet the needs of our client to improve rent-ability and marketability.
Location and topography presented a unique opportunity. The location of the lots present a rare slope along 106th Street that we used to our advantage while exploring unique site access options for different programmed uses. The slope enabled us to optimize the site's design features to maximize rent-able square footage. With street level entrances along already busy Astoria Blvd for all six commercial spaces, the residential homes keep their private scaled entrances in the rear. Each first floor commercial space has the option to combine with the separate unseen cellar commercial space or remain divided. Our design for both spaces is meant to be commercially flexible and increase tenant possibilities like restaurants, parlors, retail, etc. This allows the developer/owner to widen the pool of potential lessees. The private alley way access in back provides a large enough space for commercial delivery and loading as well (providing a second mean of egress.)
The rear residential access is both private and shared with other residents. Those entrances are either through their private ground floor patio for their first floor unit, or through a private entrance to the side of each patio that leads to the upper units. The goal was to have an intimate scaled entrance which allows for privacy, and an intimate feel even in a busy area. As part of our quality of life commitment that we try to instill in all of our designs, we want residents to be able to have an intimate oasis even in a bustling metropolitan setting such as East Elmhurst.
Six individual buildings designed to look like one homogeneous structure. If you look at the front of the building on Astoria Blvd, the structure looks like one building, but in actuality it is 6 buildings which have shared access for one programmed use. Three-four story buildings that are designed to look like one unique, super insulated, air tight, CMU structure.
The rear access configuration was also specially approved by the MOPD (Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities) and the FDNY for accessible means of access for all units sharing the terrace. The commonly shared communal terrace creates an intimate space, appropriately scaled entrance, and common area for all the occupants to enjoy.
Passive House principles were utilized throughout the design. The entire project is tailored towards sustainable innovation including the individual residential units. Units were placed on the North facing side of each unit facing Astoria Blvd, and living dwellings have South exposure to maximize sunlight and its benefits. Triple glazed windows and a super insulated envelope help exceed code compliance by 50%. And, the installation of an Energy Recovery Ventilation System (ERV) ensures superior indoor air quality for all interior spaces including both commercial and residential. With us spending so much time indoors today, whether it is due to Covid-19 or other factors, excellent indoor air quality is something that should be accessible to all and can be achieved through the right design. Not only does this create a safe and healthy indoor environment for tenants, it also helps save money for the owner/developer/landlord.
Open rooftop decks add living space and additional sustainability. Blue roof design provides initial temporary water storage and then gradual release of stored water, typically rainfall. Each top unit consists of a rooftop deck with a blue roof design and increased outdoor living space for residents. Other features include individual outdoor kitchens for each unit, and pergola above for shading and relaxation.
Our sustainable designs are now more important than ever in today's climate. The complexity of this design reaches sustainable milestones. While commercial spaces exist, residents can still have a very healthy lifestyle based on all the sustainability principles that are incorporated throughout.
This project illustrates our commitment to sustainability and Passive House principles. We believe even in New York City, it is more important than ever to have your small private green space, good indoor air quality (achievable through the Energy Recovery Ventilation System), and to maximize Passive House principles. We strive to do this with all our designs, and we should aspire to achieve a healthier indoor and outdoor environment for all city dwellers.