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Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
The Waterpointe site, located at 151-45 Sixth Rd.

Community members bristled when they heard the latest updates on a highly contested Whitestone development site.

Previously an industrial zone, the 18-acre site at 151-45 Sixth Rd. known as Waterpointe has been a hot topic in the neighborhood for a number of years. According to a report by Community Board 7 member Joseph Sweeney at the May 8 meeting, the board is still waiting on a deed restriction from developers to ensure that the space be limited to 52 single-family homes for both current and future owners. The board first requested the deed restriction from the developers in November 2015.

“This is an important matter for board 7, especially the people within Whitestone,” Sweeney said.

Edgestone Group LLC, the site’s current owner, purchased the land in 2012 for $11 million. The developers originally sought to build 97 two-family townhouse homes and nine additional single-family houses at the site, but changed their plans after community outcry.

According to the most recent information provided to the community board by the developers, plans include a total of 52 single-family homes and a two-acre waterfront park. Homes would cost between $1.4 and $1.6 million and an air-monitor alarm system would be installed in each home due to the site’s E-designation, indicating the potential for hazardous materials at the site.

Still, the board is concerned that plans could change.

“The committee is concerned that there’s still a possibility the property could be sold to a [different] developer,” Sweeney said. “And that new owner can, under present [zoning], build 107 two family homes.”

In August 2015, concerns arose when the site was listed as for sale by commercial realty company Cushman & Wakefield. When asked about the listing, Waterpointe architect Joe Sultana disputed that the property was for sale and said the posting was unauthorized.

Sweeney said if the community board does not receive the deed restriction in the coming days, they will approach the borough president to down-zone the property “in order to preserve the surrounding community from the negative effects of the large-scale development.”

“If they build anything bigger [than 52 single-family homes], the sewer system won’t handle it; the road won’t handle it,” said Kim Coady, board member and president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association. “It’ll be devastating to the community of Whitestone.”

The previous owner, Bayrock Group, bought the plot in 2005 for $25 million, but was fined $150,000 by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for bringing in toxic soil to the already contaminated site. The group subsequently went bankrupt. Under the Edgestone Group, the site is currently undergoing a Brownfield cleanup, as mandated by the DEC.

“They keep promising [the deed restriction], but they’re not delivering,” said vice chair Chuck Apelian.

Sweeney said the board has been struggling to be in direct contact with the investors from Edgestone Group for years.

“It’s just one of these groups, we can’t get information,” he said.

In May 2015, over 100 residents and lawmakers gathered at the site to protest the original Waterpointe proposal, which they said was part of a larger overdevelopment problem within the neighborhood.

Coady said if the situation continues, the community will organize another rally.

“I think that’s what it might come to,” Sweeney said.

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