Controversy Grows Over Pharmacy Sign
Controversy Grows Over Pharmacy
City to Review Duane Reade Proposal
By Brian Magoolaghan
The sign taking shape atop a major Rockaway building project, over which many local residents and groups have expressed concern, is under review by the city's building department.
The new Duane Reade Pharmacy, being built at 115-30 Beach Channel Drive (BCD), will have a 400 square-foot, lighted billboard on its roof, according to drawings from David Mayerfeld Associates, the NY architects working on the project.
Earlier this month, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) disapproved plans submitted by the Miller Thomas Sign Group for the roof-top sign that would say "Duane DR Reade Pharmacy Everything You Need" according to the DOB website.
The DOB is reviewing the Duane Reade plans, to see if the sign is part of the "overall building structure" because it would then be covered by the property's building permit, said Sid Dinsay a representative from the DOB.
The sign has caused some consternation in the community, particularly because the building site is adjacent to the new Tribute Park, which is slated to open in September. On Wednesday, the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) discussed the sign and decided to ask Duane Reade to reconsider its plans.
A portion of the DOB code, related to outdoor signs, caused some to speculate that it would be in violation. The code requires a permit for any sign "a distance of two hundred linear feet from and within view of a public park with an area of one half acre or more."
But that won't stop Duane Reade from building their sign, because the property is zoned "C-8 Commercial" and is therefore not subject to that code, according to New York City Planning Office Press Secretary Robyn Stein. In fact, the pharmacy could, by law, make it 100 square feet larger, Stein said. Other regulations for outdoor signs exist, but Stein said, "We don't think they would apply." She also added that the DOB is the decision-making body overseeing projects such as this.
The signage issue is just one part of the larger development project that is taking place in the area of Beach 115-116 Streets and BCD. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) is expected to begin construction of their park very soon.
"Representatives from Parks met with Duane Reade to ensure that adjacent parkland would not be adversely affected by the future construction," said Parks representative Margaret Johnson. They discussed electrical, lighting, water, and fencing issues according to Chamber Executive Director Liz Sulik.
An engineer working on the Duane Reade project said the company has talked with Parks about providing water and electric for the Park. Johnson would not confirm what Chief Engineer and Capital Projects Construction Chief John J. Natoli discussed with Duane Reade at a recent meeting.
Sulik, who described the projects as a "collaboration" says she wishes that the Chamber and Duane Reade had come together earlier in the designing of the pharmacy.
"Do I like the sign-no," she said, but added that Duane Reade has been receptive and made "an effort to make the building more attractive than it would have been." She also said she is hopeful that Duane Reade will opt to face the sign east only- the direction opposite the park.
"I'm concerned about the cosmetic nature of the project," said City Councilman and local Parks Commit-tee Chair Joe Addabbo, Jr. Perhaps a larger issue, Addabbo said, is another structure on Beach 116 and BCD. He said that the free-standing billboard, not owned by Duane Reade, presents safety concerns. Chamber officials say that the billboard will be removed shortly.
Several community representatives, including Community Board 14 District Manager Jon Gaska, have expressed concern over traffic at the intersection near the site.
Many of those contacted regarding the Duane Reade build also pointed out positive aspects of the project. "We're always encouraged to see economic development on the peninsula," said Rockaway Chamber of Commerce President John LePore.
The pharmacy has the opportunity to become a partner with the community - by providing access to goods, and jobs, for residents, Addabbo said. Several attempts were made to include comments from Duane Reade, but at press time they had offered none.
A construction violation was issued to the owners of 115-30 BCD (from the report it is not clear if Duane Reade is the owner). The violation, termed "moderately severe," was issued by the buildings department because work was being "performed other than on weekdays between the hours of seven a.m. and six p.m., without a variance." Udo Steudtner, Director of Construc-tion for Duane Reade, directed inquir-ies made by The Wave to the buildings department.
There are no complaints against 115-30 on file at the DOB, according to Dinsay. The tentative completion date for the Duane Reade building is mid April, according to Sulik.