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After a parking structure proved to have too hefty a price tag, the former owner of Caffe on the Green has decided on a new project.

The restaurateur purchased The White House in Whitestone, with plans to build a new restaurant and catering hall. But when it became clear that a high water table was complicating the process, he decided to build commercial and office space instead.

“We’re going to make a spectacular looking building, front and back,” said the owner. “We’re going to dress up this block and add a lot of chicness to Whitestone.”

The owner’s original idea was to build a grand restaurant and catering facility, but he hit a road block in the form of a parking lot. He was told he would have to build a parking system that would cost upwards of $2 million to build – and this is separate from the cost of building the restaurant itself.

Realizing the cost was just too much, the Whitestone restaurateur, whose company, Merissa Management Holdings LLC will handle construction, decided to change his plans. Instead of a restaurant and catering operation, he will now build 7,000-square-feet of retail on the first floor, 7,000-square-feet of office suites on the second floor and the same amount of space on the lower level.

“It is going to be gorgeous,” said the restaurateur, who is working with Papa Architect on the project. “I’m thinking about calling it ‘White Beach Plaza.’”

Councilmember Dan Halloran, while stopping short of commenting on the specifics, did say that any development must honor Whitestone.

“I am working with the neighborhood and the developer to preserve the integrity of this block of Whitestone,” he said. “Any growth in northeast Queens must be done responsibly and with the community’s concerns in mind.”

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