By Alexander Dworkowitz
What is better for College Point’s waterfront: manufacturing or apartments?
That was the question facing Community Board 7 Monday evening, and many could not make up their minds.
“I wish I had two votes,” said Joseph Lapatin, a member of the board. “One I’d vote yes; one I’d vote no.”
At issue was the property located at 14-34 110th St. along the Flushing Bay.
Once a manufacturing facility for EDO Corp., the lot is now owned by JCH Delta Contracting, a general contracting company that has designed buildings throughout Queens.
Delta had hoped to construct an office building. But with a lack of interest from potential tenants, Delta instead designed a six-story building called Water View Plaza. The first floor is planned for a lobby and parking, the second floor will house office space for Delta and the top four floors will hold 47 apartments.
Since the area is zoned for manufacturing, Delta needs a variance to allow residential use on the site.
After a lengthy debate, the board voted to recommend the variance, with 22 voting in favor, 12 against, and two, including Lapatin, abstaining.
The recommendation moves on to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and then the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, which has the final say on whether or not the variance is granted.
For many, the question of manufacturing or apartments was a search for the lesser of two evils.
Joseph Morsellino, a lawyer representing Delta, argued that the move away from manufacturing was good for College Point because it would reduce truck traffic.
“We feel the impact on the community would be less with the residential use component,” he said.
But many College Point residents disagreed.
“We’re all getting fed up,” said board member and College Point resident Dorothy Schreiber. “We’ve got to stop somewhere. I’ll vote for manufacturing.”
Others argued that the variance would start a trend toward allowing residential homes to develop in areas zoned for manufacturing.
“I feel that it definitely would create a precedent,” said Fred Mazzarello, president of the College Point Board of Trade.
Mazzarello said a six-story building, which he described as a “high rise,” was a dirty word 50 years ago.
“If anyone mentioned the word ‘high rise’ in College Point, they would be hung at the nearest tree,” he said.
Morsellino said the 119 parking spots to be provided on the property would be more than enough for the residents of the building, noting that Water View Plaza would not create additional residential parking problems.
But Frank Macchio, third chairman of CB 7, said the plan had a flaw.
“There’s a possibility that they will charge for the parking, which really doesn’t make it available,” he said.
Eugene Kelty, chairman of the board, asked if nearby residents would be allowed to use the waterfront once the building opened. Morsellino said he could not make any promises.
Morsellino said residents would have to accept the new 85- to 90-foot building, already under construction.
“The building is going up,” said Morsellino. “Whatever view that is there is going to be obstructed.”
Nevertheless, Lapatin questioned whether the denial of a variance would actually force the use of the land for business or manufacturing, noting that Delta was unable to secure industrial and commercial tenants.
In other news, the board took on the less controversial issue of making part of a one-way street two-way in Flushing.
Residents living on the block of Holly Avenue between Kissena Boulevard and 137th Place can only drive to their homes by turning off Kissena, driving down Juniper Avenue, and turning onto 137th Place to reach the one-way street of Holly.
“This combination … makes it almost impossible for people who live on Holly Avenue to get to their block,” said Holly Civic Association President Joseph Seawright.
The traffic configuration also causes congestion on Juniper Avenue, said Seawright.
Instead, Seawright proposed making Juniper Avenue a two-way street in the short stretch from Colden Avenue to 137th Place, allowing Holly Avenue residents to access their street from Colden as well as Kissena.
The board voted unanimously to approve the proposal.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.