LIC residents praise park, but question rest of Paragon Paint site plan

Photo courtesy Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

The developers of the Paragon Paint Factory, who plan to turn the site into three residential towers, presented their vision during a public hearing Wednesday night at The School of Academy for Careers in Film and Television.

The plans include erecting a 28-story tower attached to the factory, which is located at 5-49 46th Ave., and two residential towers spanning 8 feet and 13 feet on adjacent parcels of land. A public park overlooking Anable Basin will connect the buildings.

Following the presentation, several audience members praised the park design and thanked the developers for cleaning up the site. But many were concerned with the effects 344 units would have on existing infrastructure and how a 28-story tower would overshadow existing buildings.

“This is over-developed and not within character of our neighborhood,” said Anna Finn, a lifelong resident of Long Island City who lives around the corner of the future development. “It will set a precedent [for future developments]. We do not have enough services to support this.”

The three towers will house 344 units of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. There will also be about 13,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, according to developer Matthew Baron. The developers are also planning to allocate 30 percent of the units for affordable housing, which would translate to 122 to 124 units, he said. This affordable housing is contingent on the 421a property tax credit, which expired last Friday.

Baron said the plan for the site was made with the neighborhood in mind. The developers will keep the existing facade of the Paragon Paint Factory to “keep the existing character of the building.” He also said the park, which includes a 60- to 80-foot corridor of protective views of the water, “is a forever piece of real estate.”

Though the park will be privately owned and maintained, it can never be developed. The deed will have a restrictive covenant binding any future owners from developing the park.

The project will be a joint venture with Simon Baron Development and CRE Development. According to Attorney Howard Goldman, the developers are seeking a variance change. The site is currently in a M1-4 manufacturing zone and can only be developed into a hotel or hospital, or be used for manufacturing. They will go before the Board of Standards and Appeals to ask for a M1-6 zone change to build residential towers.

Brent Carrier of CRE Development said the developers have spent nearly $30 million cleaning up the paint factory, which the New York State Department of Health called “a significant threat to human life.” For this reason, turning the site into a hotel would not be economically viable, Goldman said.

Community Board 2 Chairperson Pat O’Brien said while the cleanup of a toxic site and public park are beneficial to the community, the 28-story tower does not fit in with the “character” of Vernon Boulevard, which houses mostly low-rise buildings.

He added that while many developments are expected to pop up along the waterfront in the next several years, additional infrastructure such as schools and more transportation are not scheduled to follow.

Lisa Ann Deller, chair of the Land Use Committee, praised the park plan and “spectacular views of Manhattan” but argued that this development would price out the residents of Long Island City.

“Every time the developers talk about the uniqueness of this site, all I can see is continued gentrification of this neighborhood,” Deller said. “It’s not a middle-class housing development; this is a luxury housing development overlaid with maybe some affordable units for tax abatement that may or may not be available.”

CB 2 will vote on the plan at its monthly meeting on Feb. 4.


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