Developers of Paragon Paint Building Scale Back Plans, Seek Variance 1Q2018

Revised Plan (SHoP Architects)

Nov. 22, 2017 By Christian Murray

The owners of the Paragon Paint building who filed plans in 2015 to develop three residential buildings alongside the paint factory are scaling back their plans following push back from the community that argued the project was too big.

The revised plans filed by Simon Baron Development still call for the construction of a residential tower at 45-40 Vernon Blvd., a site that is currently zoned for manufacturing. The new plan includes a 26-story tower, a complete overhaul of the Paragon Paint building for residential and retail use, and the addition of a one-story building on 46th Avenue on an adjoining lot.

The development would lead to the construction of 248 units of which 30 percent would be affordable at 130 percent of Area Media Income. The plan filed in 2015 called for 344 units.

Simon Baron filed the revised plans in September with the Board of Standards and Appeals as the company seeks a variance that would permit residential use. The company’s initial plans appeared to be making little headway after Community Board 2—merely an advisory body–voted against it 24 to 4 (with two abstentions) in February 2016 on the grounds that it was too big.

The BSA largely agreed with CB2’s assessment that it was out of scale given its Vernon Boulevard location—despite Simon Baron claiming that the project should be compared to waterfront properties given its proximity to Anable Basin.

“We told them from a staff point of view that they would have a difficult time making that argument,” Ryan Singer, the BSA executive director told the LICPost at the end of 2016.  “There are not a lot of buildings in that area [by Vernon Boulevard] that are that height.”

The tower under the original plan was to be 28 stories and 294 feet tall.  While the revised plan calls for fewer floors—26 stories—the building is only 2 feet shorter at 292 feet.

The tower, however, would be pushed back from the street, similar to the original plan.

The primary difference from the original plan is that the developer no longer intends to construct a 13-story building alongside the proposed tower on Vernon Boulevard. In addition, an eight-story building that was originally proposed to go up on 46th Avenue has been scaled back to one story that would be used for retail and connect to the tower.

The plans for the paint building remain, with loft-like units on the upper floors and retail on the ground floor.

SHoP Architects

“We took a few hits last time, we understood and listened,” said Todd Sigaty, of SHoP Architects, at Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee meeting last week. “It is now smaller in scale than it used to be.”

Matthew Baron, president of Simon Baron, told the committee said that the revised proposal would still provide public access from Vernon Boulevard through to Anable Basin, which includes open space—something that his company is not required to do. The public access was included in the original proposal.

Simon Baron is likely to spend about $15 million cleaning up the contaminated site—where paint and varnish was manufactured for decades. The company is likely to recoup a portion of those remediation costs though New York State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. The monetary amount is not yet known.

The original plan was panned mainly because it was deemed too big in comparison to other Vernon Boulevard buildings—thereby changing the character of the area. The board’s view was that large building like these should be located by the East River.

Developers in need of a zoning change have just two avenues to get it altered—through the BSA or through the City Planning’s ULURP process. Most developers go through ULURP, where the rezoning process–if successful– takes about nine months and involves a City Council vote.

The BSA track, which is a less cumbersome process, can only be taken if special criteria are met.

To meet BSA standards, developers such as Simon Baron must prove that their property has a unique physical condition that poses a financial hardship.

Simon Baron is claiming that the cost of cleaning the site has caused hardship. The company claims that it needs a zoning variance in order to build a structure where it can overcome the enormous cost of the cleanup.

The company is in the midst of a remediation program where it is clearing the contaminated soil, treating the ground water as well as replacing the timber bulkhead/seawall that touches Anable Basin.

The BSA, before it approves an application, also wants to make sure that the variance wouldn’t result in a building that would change the character of a neighborhood.

Last week, Plaxall announced its proposal to rezone nearly 15 acres of Hunters Point, which includes 12.7 acres of Plaxall property plus a handful of other sites including the Paragon Paint building.

Baron said that the tower doesn’t appear to be out of context given the plans put forward by Plaxall. He said the Plaxall proposal includes buildings that are nearly 700 feet tall.

Baron said that his project can act as a yardstick for the proposed rezoning. “We can put a stake in the ground, where you can say, this was way below [what the others are proposing via a rezoning] and they put in public space and affordable housing.”

Pat O’Brien, a CB2 committee member, said that pointing to the Plaxall proposal is not a good gauge since it has yet to be reviewed. “We don’t have a crystal ball and don’t know what the end result will be,” O’Brien said, adding that the proposal shouldn’t be used to determine neighborhood context at this point.

With the Paragon Paint building being located within the 15-acre area proposed for rezoning though ULURP, Baron’s company could wait for the property to be part of the comprehensive rezoning.

However, the firm seeks a variance via the BSA—since it could be two years before the 15-acre area is rezoned and it claims the property meets the BSA criteria.

In addition, the rezoning plan put forward by Plaxall calls for the addition of manufacturing and other mixed uses that the current Paragon Paint plans don’t include.

O’Brien argued that by going the BSA route there will be inconsistency in land use in Hunters Point. He said that Plaxall is seeking a rezoning, the Economic Development Corp is also seeking to rezone its 44th Drive site, and there is Paragon Paint’s BSA application.

O’Brien said that the three projects are so intertwined that it makes more sense for there to be one coordinated zoning process for the entire area. He said there could be three different requirements for sites that are next to one another.

Simon Baron plans to go before the BSA during the first quarter of 2018 for a decision. It no longer requires a community board vote.

Plaxall, Paragon Paint and EDC sites (SHoP Architects)

Latest News

Jackson Avenue Changes, Street Cleaning, to be Discussed in Transportation Panel at Next Week’s Court Square Civic Association Meeting
Nov. 22, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
Transportation will be the item for next week’s Court Square Civic Association meeting, where a panel discussion and Q&A with transportation leaders will take place on items like Jackson Avenue, street cleaning, and Court Square’s growing population.…
Sapps, Serving Japanese Food, to Open in Court Square Next Week
Nov. 20, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
COURT SQUARE - A restaurant with a focus on Japanese food and other Asian cuisines is opening in the Court Square area next week. Sapps, the name of the “no frills” restaurant, will open its doors on Nov.…
Developers Sign on to Build Towers on 2 Empty Hunters Point South Parcels, Will Bring Over 1,100 Additional Units to Waterfront
Nov. 17, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
The city has at last revealed the developers chosen to build towers on two empty parcels of the ongoing Hunters Point South development site. Gotham, the real-estate development firm, and RiseBoro Community Partnership,…
MTA to Increase Weekend Service on 7 train Starting June 2018 to Meet Increased Demand
Nov. 16, 2017, By Christian Murray
The MTA will be increasing subway service along four Queens subway lines next summer in an effort to keep up with demand. The biggest change will come to 7-train, where the agency will offer additional service on weekends.…
Modern Spaces to Host Free Craft Beer Crawl this Saturday, Takes Place at 5 Condo Sites in LIC
Nov. 16, 2017 By Staff Report
LONG ISLAND CITY – Modern Spaces NYC is hosting a free craft beer crawl in Long Island City this Saturday as part of a series of open houses dubbed “SpacesOpen.” The self-guided beer crawl will take place at five different condo buildings--between 12 p.m.…
Man Shoves, Injures Uniformed NYPD Officer After Jumping Turnstile at Queens Plaza, Police Say
Nov. 16, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
Police are on the lookout for a suspect who allegedly shoved a uniformed NYPD officer to the ground after she stopped him for jumping the turnstile at the Queens Plaza station in Long Island City.…


More Headlines

Waheyo, Mexican Restaurant, to Open in Queens Plaza Next Month
Nov. 14, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
A modern Mexican restaurant is heading to Long Island City into a small space in Queens Plaza. Waheyo, the name of the restaurant, will be serving modern Mexican-inspired dishes at 27-16 Queens Plaza.…
Plaxall Aims to Rezone 15-acres of Land by Anable Basin, Would Bring 5,000 units Over 15 years
Nov. 14, By Christian Murray
Plans are in the works for the rezoning of a 15-acre swath of land surrounding Anable Basin that would make way for eight large mixed-use buildings—including a 65-story tower--that would consist of nearly 5,000 residential units,…
BQX Car Prototype Unveiled at Brooklyn Navy Yard
Nov. 13, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
A prototype of a BQX car was unveiled today at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s New Lab technology space in a bid to bring the 14-mile Brooklyn-Queens connector closer to reality. The prototype shows the car that would carry passengers through the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) a light-rail route along the waterfronts of the two boroughs,…
VIDEO: Woman Caught on Camera Shipping Back 2 Stolen MoMA PS1 Photos, Police Say
Nov. 13, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
Police are searching for a woman shown on surveillance footage shipping two photographs stolen from MoMA PS1 back to the art institute. The two print photographs, at an estimated total value of $105,000,…
Sweet Chick, Known for Chicken and Waffles, to Take Over Former Site of Alobar on Vernon Boulevard
Nov. 10, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
A restaurant, with a focus on southern comfort food and best known for its chicken and waffles is making its way to Hunters Point. Sweet Chick, the name of the Williamsburg-based locale, will open its fourth New York City location at 46-42 Vernon Blvd.,…
Bloomingdale’s to Move Into Queens Plaza Office Space With Over 1,000 Jobs Starting in 2020
Nov. 9, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
Bloomingdale’s reportedly has plans to move into a Queens Plaza office building that is currently under construction in 2020 and bring with it 1,000 jobs. The company, owned by Macy’s, will take 550,000 square-feet of office space at the site of the ongoing Jacx development at 28-01 Jackson Ave.,…
Fundraiser Set Up for 17-Year-Old Run Over Repeatedly by Minivan on Halloween
Nov. 8, 2017 by Nathaly Pesantez
A fundraiser has been set up for the 17-year-old who sustained serious injuries after the driver of a minivan ran over him several times on Halloween over an alleged egging incident. The victim,…
Jury Sides With Graffiti Artists in 5Pointz Case, Says Developer Violated Artist Rights After Whitewashing Works
Nov. 8, 2017, by Nathaly Pesantez
A jury delivered a verdict in favor of the graffiti artists involved in a court case against the real estate developer of the 5Pointz site, where 21 artists said their rights as visual artists were violated when the developer whitewashed and destroyed their artwork over the Long Island City building in 2013.…
Book Culture Aims to Open 2-Floor Store in Court Square Around Thanksgiving
Nov. 7, 2017, by Nathaly Pesantez
Book Culture, the Upper West Side-based book store, will likely be opening its Long Island City location in the next two weeks, near Thanksgiving day. The store, located at 26-09 Jackson Ave., is in the final stages of its set up,…
Man Snatches Woman’s Cellphone at Court Square-23 St Station, NYPD Releases Video of Suspect
Nov. 4, 2017 By Christian Murray
The police released surveillance footage Friday of a man who allegedly snatched a woman’s cellphone at the Court Sq-23 St station last month and fled. The suspect approached the woman on the platform of a Manhattan-bound E train at around 8:40 p.m.…
NYC Ferry Releases Revised Schedules for Winter Months, to Go Into Effect on Saturday
Nov. 3, 2017 by Nathaly Pesantez
The NYC Ferry system will work under new schedules starting on Nov. 4 to accommodate for the winter season. The schedule changes, released on Nov. 1, show reduced service for the fleet of ferries across all lines,…
‘Cheering Station’ at Court Square Aims to Energize Passing Runners During NYC Marathon
Nov. 2, 2017 by Nathaly Pesantez COURT SQUARE — A “cheering station” will be set up in Court Square during the Nov. 5 TCS New York City Marathon to encourage runners just entering Queens, fresh off the race’s halfway mark. The station will be set up at 44th Drive and 21st Street,…
LIC Man Charged with Attempted Murder, Struck Teen 3 Times with His Car After Eggs Were Thrown
Nov. 2, 2017 By Christian Murray
A 50-year-old Long Island City man who allegedly drove into a 17-year-old boy —nearly killing him-- has been charged with attempted murder and is currently behind bars facing up to 25-years in prison,…
Teenager Hospitalized After Minivan Driver Rams Into Him for Egging His Car

Nov. 1, 2017 by Nathaly Pesantez
LONG ISLAND CITY — A teenager has been hospitalized after the driver of a minivan he threw eggs at plowed into him, according to police. The incident happened at approximately 8:19 p.m.…
NYPD: Two photos worth $105K swiped from MoMA PS1
Oct. 31, By Christian Murray
Two photographs valued at $105,000 were stolen from MoMA PS1 Sunday night, according to police. The photographs, described by police as gelatin silver prints, vanished between 6:20 p.m. Sunday and 10:30 a.m. Monday, according to police.…
Vernon Mall Proposed to Be Renamed After Late Hunters Point Civic Leader Terri Adams
Oct. 31, 2017 by Nathaly Pesantez
HUNTERS POINT — Terri Adams, the long-time advocate for Hunters Point who passed away in September, is on the way to having a public place in Long Island City named after her. Vernon Mall,…
Pumpkin decorating, costume contest, and more at John F. Murray Park on Halloween
Oct. 30, by Nathaly Pesantez
John F. Murray Park is gearing up for Halloween tomorrow in an event for “local goons and goblins”. "Murray Park Halloween”, as the event is called, will take place on Oct. 31 from 5 p.m.…

In the Spotlight