Whitestone can breathe again.
Following unyielding pressure by residents and politicians, including the announcement of a planned protest, developers of the 18-acre Waterpointe site are returning to the original proposal of 52 single-family detached homes instead of one that would have had quadruple the number of units.
Officials from Edgestone Group, which purchased the land at 151-45 Sixth Rd. for $11.3 million in 2012, decided to change course after negotiating with Councilman Paul Vallone. Both parties confirmed exclusively to The Courier that the developer will return to the original proposal the community supported years ago instead of the recently unveiled 107 townhouses — possibly avoiding a war in Whitestone.
“So much has been talked about this site, and now you’ve got a community fearing the worst,” Vallone said. “I’m proud to work with [the architect] Joe Sultana and the owners to get their commitment to go back to the original agreement, because that’s really what everyone has always wanted.”
Also, the developer will keep plans for community amenities, including a much-needed two-acre waterfront park, promenade, a 60-boat marina, and potentially an “eco-dock” from which residents can fish and go kayaking.
In a Community Board 7 (CB 7) committee meeting last month, Edgestone unveiled its updated plan for the property, which included 97 two-family townhouses and nine additional single-family townhouses, for a total of 203 units.
The backlash by residents and politicians was strong. They complained that it would dramatically impact the community and put a burden on schools, roads, sewers and other public systems. Also, they said the townhouses would ruin the contextual character of the neighborhood, which has mostly single-family detached residences.
“[The developer] is doing the right thing for the community,” said Joe Sweeney, a member of the CB 7 Zoning Committee. “He’s basically responding by meeting community wishes and not disrespecting the community. That plan would have had a tremendous effect.”
Edgestone initially turned away from the 52 large single-family homes because they would each have to retail for $2 million, a price tag the group figured would take longer to sell.
However, the developer agreed to the old plan because they’ll be able to begin working faster on the long-stalled development site.
“What it’s come down to is the developer wants to start working on this,” Sultana said. “If we go to the 200 units or anything else but the 52 [homes], we’d have to refile and go through city approval all over again and that’s probably going to take a year and a fight. So the developer is eager to get started. ”
Sultana couldn’t yet give many details about the homes, but said 40 of them will be between 2,000 to 3,000 square feet with private yards and garages. The remaining 12 will be bigger, more luxurious homes, closer to the waterfront.
An environmental cleanup of the site will begin later this year. After the site has been cleaned, the developer will reapply for the original special permit for 52 homes, which has since expired.
Despite this news, residents are still planning to hold Sunday’s rally hosted by the We Love Whitestone Civic Association at 1 p.m. in front the site.
“Absolutely,” said Alfredo Centola, president of the civic group. “How do we know this is not just a ploy to get us to back away, and as soon as we turn away they change again?”