Monday, November 16, 2015

Huge Lot on Queens Waterfront to be Developed

A developer which owns one of the largest vacant waterfront properties in New York City, plans to build 52 single-family homes in Whitestone, Queens. Originally zoned for manufacturing, the 13-acre industrial property, known as Whitepointe, has been rezoned for residential use. The property also includes 8 acres of water rights and will feature a publicly accessible waterfront park. Groundbreaking may begin by the middle of next year.

The site's developer, Edgestone Group, which is involved with Barone Management - a firm that has both construction and development arms and is based in Whitestone, purchased the large waterfront site in 2011 for $11.3 million from Bayrock Group, which went bankrupt.

The property also includes 8 acres of water rights and will feature a publicly accessible waterfront park, as is required by city regulations.

The Whitepointe site was originally zoned for manufacturing until about 2005, when Bayrock Group bought the site and sought to rezone it for residential use. The city modified the zoning to specifically allow for the development of 52 single-family homes, according to area lawmakers, but Bayrock went bust and the property descended into foreclosure.

Barone said the development would be a boon for the area, setting a precedent on converting old manufacturing sites into residential tracts in character with the rest of the sleepy neighborhood.

Nevertheless, changing industrial sites to residential properties often involves environmental remediation, and the Whitestone lot was no exception. The soil at the site was contaminated and needed to be entirely replaced before a shovel could hit the ground. It was entered into the state’s Brownfield Cleanup program, which works with developers to clean toxic sites and prep them for development.

The court-appointed receiver for the property hired the construction arm of Barone to perform complete remediation at the site, which concluded in the fall of 2011.

Edgestone Group had originally wanted to build 107 single family homes on the site, but recently backed away from that proposal in response to pressure from the community.

The concession, unusual for a developer, underscores the strong anti-density sentiment in this middle- and upper-class enclave, distinguished by single-family homes and views of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.

Residents typically view increased density with caution, said Joe Sweeney, chairman of Community Board 7’s consumer-affairs committee.

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