Monday, May 26, 2014

Rego Center Mall to Become 24-Story Residential Tower

Vornado Development has begun work to construct a 24-story apartment building on top — yes, on top — of the Rego Center Mall. The plan, first unveiled in 2007, will build a 288-foot-tall building with 314 apartments atop the popular shopping mall at 61-01 Junction Blvd.  Vornado Realty Trust has already received the construction permits needed to start work. The mall, which opened in 2010, includes T.J. Maxx, Century 21, Costco and Kohl’s. The 287,113-square-foot project will cost around $120 million.

Work has already begun to build 314 apartment units on top of the Rego Center shopping mall in Rego Park.

An application submitted by Manhattan-based Vornado Realty Trust to construct the 24-story addition was approved in June, according to the city Department of Buildings.

The addition would be 288 feet high and will be designed by the New York firm SLCE Architects.

Residential apartments were part of the original proposal for the site on Junction Blvd. off the Long Island Expressway — once a parking lot for the Alexander’s department store. When ground was broken in 2007, Vornado officials said 400 apartments would rise on the site. But those plans went on hold after the economic downtown.

But the mall went ahead as promised and now includes a Costco, Kohl’s and Toys R Us as well several other retail shops and eateries. It is connected by a bridge to the Sears, Burlington Coat Factory and other stores built years ago on the former Alexander’s location.

The new development will not include enclosed parking space, according to city records. The mall already has a parking deck and the Rego Park Mall, in front of the center, has a four-level parking garage. The apartment piece, which was included in the original plans for the shopping center, is considered Phase-II of the center’s development.

Vornado has also proposed building a multi-use facility across the street from the mall that would include three floors of retail stores, residential housing and even a public school. The company said it would not break ground on Phase-III for at least four years.

Vornado Realty Trust first opened the shopping complex, at 61-01 Junction Blvd., in 2010. While community members were initially concerned about traffic congestion in the area, the center was a welcome addition to the neighborhood because it brought the promise of jobs.

Vornado has the right to build the tower, but locals are concerned that there is now more traffic then there was when the project was initially proposed.

According to Community Board 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio, "Congestion is a concern." He said he has received calls from community members about the construction. "It’s a major concern for everybody,” he said.  He said board members would carefully watch the new development so they will be aware of both traffic and other quality-of-life issues.

Rego Park, named after the Real Good Construction Company that built homes in the area in the 1920s, is already flush with tall apartment towers. Massive Lefrak City sits on the other side of the expressway.

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