By Sadef Ali Kully
Dozens of Whitestone residents rallied against overdevelopment in their neighborhood Sunday, following the sale of a trash-ridden waterfront property to a major New York developer.
Edgestone Group, a real estate and development firm, recently bought the 18-acre waterfront property located on 151-45 6th Road. The city has permitted the firm to build only 52 single-family homes on the property, including park space that is open to residents and the public.
Rumors of an unapproved plan to build a 200-residential-unit building had set the rally in motion. The We Love Whitestone group, elected officials and community members stood in front of the property entrance with picket signs, chanting “Stick to the plan, no deal.”
“This is approved for 52 homes. Edgestone shows up and basically says we are going to build 200 units and shove it down your throats. That’s not going to happen,” said Alfredo Centola, president of We Love Whitestone, a civic association. “This is a residential community and we are the ones that will have to deal with the traffic and noise.”
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) said that residents did not have much to worry about, because they were ready to give their support if the developers changed their minds.
“We have been here before, stopped a high school. There is a plan and I am the council member for the office that would give approval,” Vallone said. “If they want to go do anything else, then they will have to start over. Whoever comes to this site and deviates from the plan faces this community.”
Activist, attorney and urban planner Paul Graziano said it would be difficult for the new developers to change any aspects of the site’s development, since the city has only approved it for 52 homes. Anything more or less would have to go through the whole city approval system again, he said.
The architect for the site, Joseph Sultana, stood in the crowd and yelled back that the rumors were not true.
“They are starting their own rumors. We are building 52 homes, 100 percent,” Sultana said. “Nothing more or less than the original plan.”
Sultana mentioned that Edgestone tried to expand the plan to include more homes, based on the original approval for 114 homes, but when his office started receiving an outpouring of complaints, that was stopped.
“I am from Whitestone, too. Why would I want to do this to my neighborhood?” Centola asked. “We are building homes, a promenade and a public park.”
The major concern for Whitestone residents stems from fear of congestion. Residents have already complained about traffic and overcrowded schools. One resident shouted out, “Where are all these people going to go?”
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull