Whitestone project may hit more snags

Whitestone project may hit more snags
Rendering courtesy Barone Management
By Joe Anuta

Civic leaders are trying to delay an application to build 52 new waterfront homes on a prime piece of Whitestone real estate until after questionable soil is removed from the property.

A limited liability company called 151-45 Sixth Rd. Partners LLC was fined $150,000 in November by the state Department of Environmental Conservation for importing unapproved soil onto the site, on the waterfront near the intersection of 151st Place and 6th Road, as a part of the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program.

The program provides incentives such as tax breaks to developers who clean up toxic properties by entering into an agreement with the environmental agency. The partnership did not abide by all of those regulations and is now in the process of removing a portion of the soil it imported.

That partnership includes Massachusetts-based Enviro Business, also known as EBI Consulting, which was appointed by a bankruptcy court to oversee cleanup of the property, and Barone Management, a Whitestone firm hired by EBI to actually replace the soil. EBI paid $75,000 of the fine, and when it removes the unauthorized soil DEC will waive the second half of the fine.

The new owner of the property, a company called Edgestone Group LLC, is seeking to renew a permit that will allow it to build 52 single-family homes on the plot.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and civic leaders are asking the City Planning Commission to delay considering the application until the partnership cleans up the site.

“I respectfully submit that the above-referenced application be held in abeyance until such time as DEC has notified City Planning that the requirements of the Brownfield cleanup have been properly complied with, including the removal of all ‘unapproved materials’ that were wrongfully dumped on the site and all the fines have been paid in full,” Avella said in a Jan. 8 letter to the commission.

But Edgestone contends no construction can begin anyway until DEC determines that the site has been properly cleaned and issues a certificate of completion for the Brownfield Cleanup Program, and thus delaying the permit only delays an asset to the community.

“Edgestone is looking forward to building 52 beautiful, single-family homes and a 3 1/2-acre public open space,” said spokesman Bill Driscoll. “While Edgestone, the owner, has inherited issues regarding the soil, we are working expeditiously to move forward and complete the remediation and receive a certificate of completion from DEC so that construction may commence.”

Edgestone, formed in July and which is headed by an investor name Gavin Feng, bought the property for about $11 million in November, according to a spokesman, who said Feng is the sole investor and that no general contractor has yet been selected.

But the realtor who sold the property indicated that a group of investors led by Scott Barone, of Barone Management, bought the property.

Regardless of who is taking the lead, Edgestone needs to renew the 2008 special permit from the Department of City Planning that allowed the homes on the former industrial site in the first place.

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