Avella hopes to stop plans of overdevelopment on massive Whitestone vacant sites

Whitestone site
Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark 

Winter may be coming to an end, but state Sen. Tony Avella isn’t planning a warm welcome for anyone who purchases a controversial site in Whitestone if they plan on overdeveloping the property or building something that doesn’t comply with zoning.

The large property, which comprises six acres of vacant land near the intersection of 150th Street and Fifth Avenue, will be up for sale on April 10 in an auction. The site was part of the former Cresthaven Country Club and then was owned by real estate firm Whitestone Jewels LLC, but has been in foreclosure since 2007.

Avella is planning to also contest plans for development that doesn’t meet zoning on another large vacant site near the waterfront, which comprises of about eight lots around 151-45 Sixth Rd., because he and community leaders want to preserve the look of the community. The site is also zoned for smaller–sized residential uses.

“Now that both are potentially moving forward with construction, it is imperative that the developers do not stray from doing what is best for the community,” Avella said. “Whoever decides to purchase and develop these areas must do so in a way that will not damage the character of the surrounding low-density residential neighborhood.”

Whitestone Jewels LLC purchased the six-acre site in 2006 for $23.3 million from the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn, according to city records, but defaulted on its mortgage soon after.

It became the subject of a potential new school in 2013, however, residents rallied against any possible School Construction Authority plan.

The second development site, which is bigger and near the waterfront, had approved plans for 52 new single-family houses by developer Bayrock Group, according to Avella. But because of the recession the firm could not complete the plan, Avella said.

Then in 2012 Edgestone Group purchased the site for $11.3 million, according to city records. There is nearly 900,000 square feet of space of the lots that were purchased, records show, but they are zoned for smaller residential uses and Avella and community groups are determined to make developers stick to the zoning.

“We are a small community and do not want high-rise buildings or condominiums,” said Kim Cody, president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association. For both pieces of property, we want the developers to come in knowing that the community wants single-family homes, and to bring in anything other than that would be detrimental to the community.”