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CVS coming to Forest Hills

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A CVS pharmacy will be the new tenant coming to a row of empty storefronts on Queens Boulevard, but Forest Hills residents will have to wait a little longer than originally thought.

Members of Community Board 6 voted Sept. 14 in favor of extending the window for developer Cord Meyer to build a 17-story housing complex set to go up at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 71st Road for another four years. CVS will occupy the building’s ground floor.

“They were supposed to have the project completed by now,” board member Steve Goldberg said at the meeting.

In 2007, Cord Meyer applied to the city Board of Standards and Appeals for a variance, since the project does not exactly fit with zoning regulations in the area — namely that it has less commercial and more residential space than the zoning laws dictate, according to Anthony Colletti, chief operating officer for Cord Meyer.

The variance was granted for a four-year time frame, which expired in August, he said.

The board wanted to solicit public input from CB 6 again to see if the project still has community support. If the board grants the variance again, Cord Meyer will have until 2015 to break ground on the project, according to Colletti.

The delay in the construction was due to the lackluster economy, according to Eric Palatnik, a lawyer who represents Cord Meyer.

“We’re going to break ground as soon as possible,” he said.

The original plan called for a 16-story, 102-unit housing complex that would stand above the storefronts on Queens Boulevard. The plan also included 120 parking spaces.

Under the new plan and new deadline, the complex will be the same height, but house 17 stories and 100 units. The parking spots will increase in the new plan.

Members of the board were pleased to hear that the building’s footprint will be moved further back from Queens Boulevard and will not stand on top of Key Food, the sole business in the strip that will remain.

“Key Food will remain open,” said Goldberg. “And you won’t need a hard hat.”

Under the old plan, steel beams would have been sunk through the ceiling of Key Food and impeded shoppers, according to some board members.

Peter Galletta, vice president of construction and operations for the developer, also assured board members that Key Food has a longterm lease and has the option to stay in its current location for at least a decade, and that the owner has expressed an intent to say.

Galletta said CVS is set to open before the residential units are completed.

“In 14 to 15 months, we could probably get CVS open,” he said.

The move back from the boulevard will also add an extra 3,000 square feet of open space to the complex.

“Everything we are doing is positive,” Palatnik said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 1:14 pm, September 22, 2011
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