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Rendering courtesy of NYPD
A projected image of what the NYPD warehouse would look like at 55-15 Grand Ave. in Maspeth.

An industrial facility in Maspeth that the NYPD once eyed as a potential evidence and records warehouse has instead been purchased by a California-based realty firm, city records show.

The sale of the facility located at 55-15 Grand Ave. was finalized on Jan. 30 and the records were filed through the city on Feb. 26. Those records show that the current owners, Cascades Inc. and Star Corrugated Box Co., sold the property to 55-15 Grand Avenue Property, LLC for $72 million.

The buyer’s address traces back to a company called LBA Realty in Irvine, CA, a real estate investment and management company that specializes in office and industrial properties, according to its website. It is a common practice for real estate investors to simultaneously create an LLC as a layer of legal protection when a property is purchased.

The firm has not yet responded to a request for comment about its plans for the site.

Less than a year ago, however, the city’s plan for the building was vastly different. In May of 2017, the NYPD and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) submitted an application to acquire the buildings at 55-15 Grand Ave. and turn them into a consolidated NYPD Property Clerk warehouse facility to store records and evidence.

The proposed facility would create one permanent replacement for the six existing NYPD storage facilities throughout the city, several of which were damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and are vulnerable to future flooding.

As part of the application process, the property passed an environmental review and a uniform land use review, then was referred to Community Board 5 to hold a public hearing. After the June 2017 hearing, Board 5 voted unanimously in July of 2017 to recommend the approval of the NYPD facility, with 38 votes in favor and none opposed and no abstentions.

The application was then considered and recommended for approval by Borough President Melinda Katz. In August of 2017, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing and ultimately approved the application, then filed the resolution with the Office of the Speaker, City Council, and the borough president in September of 2017.

From there, it is unclear where the plan fell through, and the NYPD has not yet responded to a request for comment. According to the Commercial Observer, the NYPD may be close to leasing a facility in Sunset Park, Brooklyn instead.

When reached over the phone on Feb.27, Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano told QNS he was under the impression that the city knew about the sale of the property, was still interested in it and had the money set aside to acquire it. That money would not have been set aside if the application process had not been completed, he said.

The reality is that the owners of the property have the right to sell to whoever they want, but Giordano said the city could technically still acquire the site through eminent domain.

In a statement shared with QNS on Feb. 27, Councilman Robert Holden said that he doesn’t believe it would be a major loss if the NYPD facility is never established.

“It would create a significant amount of traffic in an already congested area,” Holden said. “To be honest, it’s a massive manufacturing space, and I’d like to see it used for that purpose. Obviously, I don’t know how the developers who purchased the property intend to use it, but what would be best for the community is if it were turned into a place where we make things and can employ local constituents.”

The application submitted by the NYPD states that approximately 60 NYPD and civilian personnel would be at the site on a daily basis, and it would be open to the public from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

According to a press release from Cascades Inc. — a Canadian manufacturer of green packaging and tissue products — the company will continue to use the plant until its scheduled closing date, Dec. 31, 2018.

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