Community rejects plans for College Pt. pharmacy

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Mark Investments, which owns the property at 14-01 College Point Blvd., needs a...

By Alexander Dworkowitz

In a rebuke to development in College Point, Community Board 7 unanimously voted to reject a developer’s plans Monday to bring a Walgreens Pharmacy to the business district.

Mark Investments, which owns the property at 14-01 College Point Blvd., needs a parking variance in order to bring in the planned 9,500 square-foot drugstore.

But College Point residents spoke out strongly against such an idea at the meeting at the Union Plaza Care Center.

“We are trying to revitalize College Point Boulevard,” said Fred Mazzarello, president of the College Point Board of Trade. “We’re in the process. This would destroy it.”

The property in question currently is home to a small stationery store and a gift shop as well as a vacant lot. The vote against Walgreens was 43-0.

If Mark Investments is granted the variance, the developer will knock down the current building and construct another for Walgreens, said Joseph Morsellino, an attorney for the firm.

Under zoning laws, a single business occupying the location is required to provide 38 parking spaces. But if the lot were divided into three or more businesses, no variance would be needed.

The lot in question is across the street from a municipal lot with about 40 parking spaces.

Morsellino argued if Walgreens is not allowed to build, the lot would fill up with smaller businesses which would also bring more traffic.

“You’re either going to have three stores with three separate deliveries on street or one store with one delivery on the street,” Morsellino said.

The developer also needed a variance for its side yard. Zoning laws require either no side yard at all at the property or at least eight feet between buildings. The architect, Frank Truglio, expected to leave five feet for a side yard.

Some spoke out in support the variance, describing Walgreens as a boon for the area. Adam Tonis, a Whitestone resident who works as a chiropractor on 14th Avenue in College Point, said recent development has brought him more customers.

“I personally have noticed a big increase in my personal business,” Tonis said. “I look at Walgreens as just another big business which brings more people into the area.”

But College Point residents spoke against the project, saying two drugstores were already nearby.

Tracy Shannon, who lives a short walk from the site, worried that trucks delivering to Walgreens would cause further congestion in an area already plagued by truck traffic.

Eugene Kelty, chairman of the board, agreed.

“Walgreens is a large chain, so they usually have big trucks coming in,” he said.

Others had more harsh words.

“I think this building is horrendous,” said Joan Vogt, a College Point resident. “It will be the biggest building down the avenue.”

After several speakers spoke against Walgreens, an exasperated Morsellino returned to the podium.

“We’re supposed to be for free enterprise,” he said.

The application goes to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall for review. The ultimate decision rests with the city Board of Standards and Appeals, which often okays plans for development after they are rejected by community boards.

Community Board 7 also voted to name one Flushing street in honor of a Port Authority Officer killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and another for a longtime community activist.

The board unanimously approved naming College Point Boulevard from Roosevelt Avenue to 40th Road for Port Authority Officer Clinton Davis Sr., and Holly Avenue from Kissena Boulevard to 137th Place for former Holly Civic Association President Theresa Crawford.

“Clinton was a hero,” said Donald Henton, the president of the tenants association of Bland Houses, where Davis was raised. “When the first plane struck, he went back into the tower to save lives.”

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

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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