The architect behind a plan to redevelop an aging manufacturing building into a massive mixed-use edifice appeared before members of Community Board 7 and area civic leaders last week to present the details of the project, which is currently under construction at the site of the former Gelmart plant.
The architect, Raymond Chan, says the work is being done as-of-right, but Chuck Apelian, vice chairman of CB 7 and president of the board’s College Point Corporate Task Force committee, told Chan at the meeting that he needs to respect the community’s wishes if he wants the support of the board and task force.
“You have a lot of uses that are going to bulk up the parking and the traffic,” Apelian told Chan. “You’re going to need a lot of help on this project, you’re going to need curb-cut help, you’re going to need one-way help .... If you want our help, I want your help now. I want you to keep in mind now, while you’re working on the project, to keep in mind the impacts this project will have on the surrounding community.”
Chan said he would take the concerns expressed by Apelian and other task force members — which include representatives of groups including the College Point Civic/Taxpayers Association and the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Association — to his partners in the $7 million to $8 million plan to redevelop the site at 20-07 127th St. But the groups have no power to force the architect to make any changes.
He told TimesLedger Newspapers last month that the project, dubbed Point 128, would include a 114-room, environmentally conscious, independently run boutique hotel called Hotel de Point; 124 parking spots; restaurants; retail stores; and a rooftop cafe. The site was sold Oct. 18 to Point 128 LLC for $12.65 million, according to city records.
At the Sept. 15 meeting at the College Point Corporate Park trailer on Ulmer Street, Chan presented plans for the project and went into greater detail on what it will offer when it is completed, which he hopes will be by early next year.
Chan said the L-shaped, 140,000-square-foot building will also include an organic farmer’s market, supermarket, 200-person conference center, home center, Laundromat, office space, food court and probably a Denny’s restaurant as well as more than a dozen retail shops to include a florist, pizzeria, tea house, clothier, Mexican restaurant, souvenir shop and more.
The plethora of offerings worried College Point Civic President Joe Feminia.
“First, 127th Street is very narrow and there are also houses at the south end of the street. The second thing is the road condition is pretty poor ... 20th Avenue is also pretty tight and there tends to be a lot of commercial traffic,” Feminia said.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) seconded those concerns during a private meeting with Chan.
“I told him parking needs to be increased and they have to do a traffic study,” Avella said. “I’m still waiting on a response from the Department of Buildings to verify the developer’s assertion that everything they want to do there is as of right. I’m not convinced that they’re right about that.”
Chan said he is “all ears” if the DOT wants to take steps to relieve traffic, but because the site is zoned M-1, there are few restrictions.
“It’s as-of-right, and M-1 allows you, basically, to do what you want,” Chan said. “They actually don’t require a traffic study because they only require it if you need a variance or if you build something different than the zoning.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2011 Community News Group