Saturday, September 1, 2012

Queens Factory to Become Waterfront Condo Complex

A stalled proposal to transform a dilapidated 150-year-old paint factory in College Point into a waterfront condominium complex has come back to life this month after spending years off the community’s radar. For several years, the owner of the derelict property at 109-09 15th Avenue has been trying to convert the former Chilton Paint factory into a residential complex, but so far, nothing has happened at the site. However, recent permits filed with city suggest that construction of a six-story, 134-unit waterfront condominium development - with views of the Manhattan skyline, as well as LaGuardia Airport and Rikers Island - may not be far off.

The city Board of Standards and Appeals received a request to extend a set of permits to allow construction at the old Chilton Paint Co. factory, at 110th Street and 15th Avenue.

The permit, called a variance, allows the developer to circumvent zoning laws and build housing in a manufacturing district.

The permit was initially issued in 2005 but was only valid for three years. When it first expired in 2009, the developer had still not put a shovel in the ground and went back to the board. According to documents filed with BSA, construction was delayed because the ownership of the property changed hands and the economic downturn caused funding to dry up.

The BSA granted the extension for another three years “on condition that substantial construction shall be completed by July 19, 2012.” Yet substantial construction has not been completed. In fact, no work appears to have been done on the property as the developer again approached the city for another extension.

Details of the latest plans show the developer’s vision for a six-story, 134-unit condominium complex with views of the Manhattan skyline, as well as LaGuardia Airport and Rikers Island. Out of the total units, 14 would be three-bedroom, 68 would be two-bedroom and 52 would be one-bedroom apartments, according to plans submitted to Community Board 7.

The exterior of the three-story brick factory would be kept intact, although its innards would be renovated and connected to two long, six-story buildings that would form the bulk of the housing. Those two buildings would extend outward from the factory toward the water, forming a U-shape with a courtyard in the middle, according to the plans.

Due to city laws governing the development of waterfront property, a public walkway would also be required to hug the coastline in front of the complex.

The building would also feature 139 parking spaces, but that did not stop the community from worrying about traffic.

CB 7 Chairman Gene Kelty said the additional traffic generated by the complex could prove troublesome for the mixed residential/industrial, area as another condominium complex was erected next door to the derelict factory a few years ago.

“The massive development we have is unbelievable,” College Point Civic Association President Andrew Rocco said, "but you can’t just build all this stuff and not provide infrastructure.” Rocco added, "The project could be good for the area — especially if developers clean up the waterfront and open it to the public."

Susan Brustmann, executive director of the Poppenhusen Institute, a community cultural center several blocks away, said the development could be a boon to the community. “It’s been an abandoned building that’s an eyesore,” she said. “Something’s going to come in there. Let’s just hope that it’s something that will benefit the community.”