By Tom Momberg

The Bell Apartments’ board of directors and Cord Meyer Development presented preliminary plans to construct a 186-unit condominium on vacant green space adjacent to the residential complex to the co-op’s shareholders Monday.

According to property records, the deed for the Bell Apartments is registered with Cord Meyer, which also owns Bay Terrace Shopping Center. Under the land lease with Bell Apartments, which is a five six-story buildings, 300-unit co-op, the board of directors must enter into a new agreement to give Cord Meyer the right to build on the undeveloped land opposite PS 169 on 212th Street.

The plans have not been finalized, because no deal has been reached between Cord Meyer and the board, but the design team, Morali Architects, released a close-to-finished building proposal at the meeting.

Architect Anthony Morali said the 186 units would only cover 50 to 55 percent of the current available space, and plans would result in a building density that is half of what the current zoning rules allow for, so no zoning variance would need to be granted.

Morali said instead of one large building, he plans to construct seven separate building segments connected by corridors and parking structure underground with at least 186 spaces. The developers said there would spots available for at least 220 cars, including outside parking. The underground parking lot would only be accessible on 18th Avenue and 23rd Street.

If the developer and the co-op board reach an agreement, they expect to break ground by fall or if not then in 2017. Morali said construction should take a total of 15 to 18 months.

Once complete, developers said they expect the condos to sell for between $400,000 and $500,000. One- to three-bedroom units in the Bell Apartments now have an average value of $350,000.

Morali said his firm would lay a single foundation for the underground parking space and a community space in the first phase. From there, the building segments would be constructed in a modular system off site, then stacked over the foundation—four to six stories high with a possible rooftop greenspace, Morali said.

The land lease between Cord Meyer and Bell Apartments continues for another 43 years.

Advocates of the plan said this is a good opportunity for shareholders to negotiate and buy the land underneath the co-op outright. Metro Management, which oversees business at Bell Apartments, said shareholders should eventually expect to see an increase in value of 20 to 25 percent.

In a letter to its shareholders dated Dec. 15, the co-op’s board of directors said they thought a Dec. 4 article the Bayside Times published about the initial plans they and Cord Meyer presented to the Bay Terrace Community Alliance leaders was written prematurely.

A handful of co-op residents, at least one of whom is an organizer of the Coalition of Concerned Shareholders at Bell Apartments, reached out to the Bayside Times after that article appeared, saying the only thing that was premature about the piece was that they read it in the newspaper before they were informed of the plan by the co-op board.

Board President David Baron, who is also the principal for Metro Management’s co-op and condo portfolio, said at the meeting he was waiting for the ever-developing plans to become more mature.

“We didn’t tell you about all our discussions, because each discussion was very different with essentially a whole new plan each time,” Baron said.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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