By Mark Hallum
The plans to construct three additional structures on vacant green space adjacent to Bell Apartments in Bay Terrace have changed to accommodate about 36 two-family homes, according to the architect.
Bell Apartments is a five six-story building, 300-unit co-op located near Bay Terrace Shopping Center.
Anthony Colletti, chief operating officer for Cord Meyer, said the original plans were scrapped for reasons of feasibility and community opposition.
Shareholders at the presentation in January told Cord Meyer war stories about the current parking situation and that adding 187 extra households would create too much deadlock, even with a new underground garage to match the number of units. Residents were relieved when the development company reduced the plan to 36 two-family buildings, Colletti said.
“It didn’t make sense for us either,” Colletti said. “It wasn’t working out financially, so we scaled it down and [the shareholders] were thrilled.”
Since the unveiling of the initial plans, the community has been informed of all new developments, according to Colletti, who added that elected officials such as state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) were kept informed as well.
Permits filed with the Dept. of Buildings were originally in line with plans presented to Bell Apartments’ shareholders by Cord Meyer and the co-op’s board of directors back in January, but Morali Architecture is currently working on a new design.
The new plans fill out the remaining available space within the property at 211-35 23rd Ave. by as much as 4,778 square feet.
The unveiling of the plans had been controversial initially.
Advocates of the original plan in January said developing the greenspace presented an opportunity for shareholders to negotiate and later buy the land from Cord Meyer outright. Metro Management, which oversees all business for the co-op, claimed co-op owners could see a 20 percent to 25 percent increase in the value of their investment.
The face that shareholders learned about the plan from a local newspaper before the board or the development company could inform them was also among the grievances.
A Bayside Times article published in December 2015 about the initial plans the board and Cord Meyer had presented to the Bay Terrace Community Alliance leaders was the first time many residents of the co-op had heard of the construction plans. Metro Management had criticized the story as premature in a letter to its shareholders. But residents responded that the only premature aspect to the story was that it was the first time any of them had heard about the plans to build in the open, grassy patch of land.
Metro Management principal David Baron said at the January shareholder meeting that he was waiting for the ever-changing plans to mature before informing residents.
“We didn’t tell you about all our discussions, because each time was very different with essentially a whole new plan each time,” Baron said.
Conchita Brathwaite, a member of the Coalition of Concerned Shareholders at Bell Apartments, claimed shareholders discussed removing Baron from the board over lack of transparency involving assessment costs, among other allegations, in September 2015.
Renderings of the new plan will be available in the coming weeks.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall