Many Whitestone residents recently exhaled when they learned the new owner of one of two massive vacant development sites in the area agreed to work with the community’s wishes and construct dozens of single-family homes.
Now community members may start holding their breaths again.
Edgestone Group, which owns the 18-acre vacant Waterpointe site at 151-45 6th Rd., plans to construct 107 residential buildings on it — more than double the number of units that were originally promised for the property years ago.
Plans for the project, which were revealed at a Community Board 7 committee meeting on Tuesday, call for 97 two-family townhouse homes and nine additional single-family houses. In total there will be 203 units and most of the units will be two-bedrooms.
Years ago, developer Bayrock Group, which paid $25.7 million in 2005 for the property, originally had Department of City Planning special permits to build 52 single-family homes on the property. This plan was also supported by the community. However, the company fell apart financially and Edgestone purchased it at a discounted $11.3 million in 2012, city records show.
State Sen. Tony Avella has already declared war on Edgestone’s project, because its much larger than the original 52-home plan, although it still meets zoning regulations.
“This kind of threat to the neighborhood will not be tolerated,” Avella said. “It is time for us to take a stand against overdevelopment once and for all.”
In Edgestone’s plan, there will be two-car parking for the townhouses. Also, the new community includes a park at the waterfront with a walking path, a playground, a marina, a pier and an ‘eco dock’ from which people can go kayaking. There is also a 107th building that residents can use as common space for events.
Members of the community board were very cold toward the plan. Kim Cody, a member of the board and president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, pointed out that the project will flood the community with hundreds of new residents, which will burden schools, roads, sewers and other public systems.
“You’re going to put a lot of stress on our community,” Cody said. “It’s unneeded stress.”
Edgestone representatives said at the meeting that single-family homes wouldn’t “make sense,” because they would have to retail for $2 million each, and that would take too long to sell.
Architect Joseph Sultana, who grew up in Whitestone, added the more affordable townhouses gives younger potential residents the ability to purchase homes in Whitestone, one of Queens’ more affluent neighborhoods, and elderly residents will also benefit.
“My parents are getting older and they have a nice house in Beechhurst, but they don’t need a big house,” Sultana said. “They need to figure out where to live because they are thinking about selling their house.”
Currently, Edgestone is still working to remediate the site, which is covered by toxic soil that the former owner brought in. Representatives of the firm said they hope to start trucking contaminated soil from the site in September at the earliest.
This didn’t help warm the mood of the meeting, as members of the board are afraid toxic dust from the soil can spew into the community during transport.
“What I learned tonight is this is going to have a much [more] major impact on the community than I originally thought,” said Joe Sweeney, a member of CB 7. “In the end, yes it might be affordable, but at the detriment of the rest of the community.”