$90M condo complex planned for Flushing River

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In the first major project for residential development on the Flushing waterfront, a Manhattan company hopes to soon break ground on a $90 million luxury condominium complex along the Flushing River.

The Vintage Group LLC plans to start construction this summer on the Flushing Promenade, a five-building, 375-unit development between the river and Janet Place.

"We're trying to be the pioneer that actually does a successful development," said Mark Stempel, a partner in the Vintage Group. "A lot of people shied away from this because of the potential problems. But we dove right in."

The firm aims to transform four acres of warehouses into a gated development of three luxury apartment buildings ranging from 10 stories to six stories as well as a pair of two-story retail buildings. The company expects to construct a park and promenade along the waterfront. A 250-space underground parking lot and a health club are also in the plans, and Vintage is considering building a swimming pool.

The project is being built in compliance with zoning laws, Stempel said.

Construction on the eastern half of the project, which includes a 10-story apartment building and one of the two retail buildings, is slated to start in the summer and will take about two years to complete, Stempel said.

The buildings are designed by Fakler/Eliason, Fresh Meadows-based architects, and the landscape was devised by Michel & Associates.

The land is by no means an obvious site for residential development.

A barbed-wire fence surrounds the property, which sits next to the No. 7 subway line in an industrial area with only a few scattered homes.

Several warehouses and short commercial buildings sit on the site. The buildings house everything from a plumbing company to a church to a martial arts school. Others are completely run down and covered in graffiti.

The Flushing Promenade marks the first residential development venture in the industrial belt along the Flushing River, one of the most closely watched areas in Queens.

In 1998, the city loosened Flushing's zoning laws west of Main Street, clearing the way for development.

The Muss Development Co., which had owned 14 acres just south of Roosevelt Avenue since the 1980s, drew up plans for a massive 750,000-square-foot retail center with 1,200 residential units.

F & T International also bought a large piece of waterfront property that is currently used as a parking lot.

But soil contamination on its property has forced Muss to push back the start of its project from this year to 2005, and F & T has shown no signs of moving forward.

Meanwhile, Vintage bought its parcel at the end of 2001.

Stempel said the site also contained some contaminated soil from years of industrial use. But the city Department of Environmental Protection has OK'd the company's plan to clean up the soil during construction, Stempel said.

"Thankfully, [the contamination] was a lot less than we had been anticipating," he said.

Vintage, which controls a large amount of property in Manhattan, is currently constructing a five-story apartment building on Bowne Street. Stempel said Flushing Promenade was likely the largest project of his firm to date.

Like most other condominiums going up in the area, Flushing Promenade will cater to the borough's growing upper-middle-class Asian population.

"We even took the step of pressurizing all of the hallways to keep in the smells from the type of cooking the Asian community likes to do," Stempel said.

He said the project enjoyed the political support of local officials, many of whom have pushed for the redevelopment of Willets Point on the opposite side of the river.

"We feel that the Flushing community is strong, that it is growing by leaps and bounds."

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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