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Developers of Paragon Paint building continue to seek variance, viewed as big ask

ShoP Architects

Dec. 15, 2016 By Christian Murray

The developers of the Paragon paint building who need a zoning variance in order to construct a 28-story tower on Vernon Boulevard may well struggle to get it, according to the executive director of the Board of Standards and Appeals.

The developers, Simon Baron Development and CRE Development, must adhere to several conditions in order to be granted a variance—one of which is that the structure does not alter the character of the neighborhood.

“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 said.  “There are not a lot of buildings in that area that are that height.”

Singer said that his staffers told the developers that their case on this point “seemed like a stretch.”

The developers are continuing to press ahead with their BSA application. On Wednesday, Brent Carrier, of CRE Development, said that they are still on track. He said that they will not be changing the design in any significant way. He wouldn’t comment beyond this, other than saying it is “an exciting project.”

The plan is complex and would lead to the construction of 344 rental apartments and a half-acre public park that would open on Anable Basin. It features the controversial 28-story tower, which would be attached to a revamped Paragon Paint building and set back 50 feet from Vernon Boulevard.

The plan would also consist of two other buildings that would be 13 stories and eight stories, respectively.

The application has been slow and drawn out.

The developers filed for their variance in October 2015. Typically such permits are ruled on much faster but there have been delays, as BSA staffers have been taken their time to review it and the developers have been slow to address the BSA’s feedback, Singer said.

The developers had discussed the concept of getting the site rezoned, as opposed to going through the BSA process where they must meet the conditions that it will “not altering the character of the neighborhood,” Singer said.

However, a rezoning is a much more lengthy process that involves more governmental layers—including the approval of the local councilman who can essentially veto the plan. With a BSA application, the decision is made by the board, with the local community board providing an advisory opinion.

“We have told them that they are taking a risk [going for a BSA variance],” Singer said, although he noted that the BSA staff do not make the decision. He said it is up to the 5-member board.

Community Board 2 opposed the project in February, claiming that it did not fit the character of the area.

Former CB2 Chair Patrick O’Brien said at the time that he was concerned with the size and scale of the 28-story building, given the low rise nature of Vernon Boulevard.

O’Brien said that there had been efforts through a number of rezonings in the 1990s and early 2000s to keep the buildings low rise on Vernon Boulevard.

“Bulk and density remains a concern for us,” O’Brien said.“Our view on height is that it should be toward the water, and I mean the [East] River, not the basin.”

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26 Comments

MRLIC

SC , you must have me confused me with the FAKE MRLIC. A decent bowling center wouldn’t hurt around here though. I am not talking about a 10 lane one either. The neighborhood definitely needs something for people to do, not more Hi-rises.

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MRLIC

Up up and away. You are wrong. Stop the overbuilding without planning. Overcrowding already crowded trains and with no shopping around is stupid. Stop building, No No No more.

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SC

A walk down Vernon from 46 Ave north towards 44th will show you dilapidated buildings, most of them sitting empty, unused, and falling apart. there’s a boarded up empty lot, a parking lot for blood bank trucks and employees, paragon, a boarded up and run down old strip club, and abandoned dry cleaners.

This is the “character” that you’re trying to save? Short of a handful of shops, this particular stretch is a complete eyesore. Developing this stretch of land should be a priority for the city. You can keep the “historic” Vernon Blvd as is. I’m in favor of it. Landmark it if you have to. But to be upset over the redevelopment of this stretch of land is just NIMBY behavior at it’s worst.

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Anonymous

Right, because you have to be a NIMBY if you are opposed to a ginormous building completely out of scale with the surrounding area.

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OAR

That is because it is zoned differently than the the paragon development. This building at 28 feet will create a huge shadow for those of us living one block east, especially Murray Playground.

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D

Slippery is the slope of the high rise…unnoticed is when citzens go blind to theft. All those for this “crap and park package” should be unnoticed… andif a tall eyesore “disappears” from our low rise area, more miracle hi-rises will spring up, also in invisible space.

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MRLIC

Jon, just let one GREEDY Developer get away with it and soon they will come out of he woodwork like RATS. Develop it but within the character of the neighborhood.

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MyBackYard2

“shady”? Love the salacious headline, but those minority investors made $1M profit in less than twelve months – come swindle me anytime!

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Jon

Given the dilapidated shitholes that exist in this area of Vernon Blvd. right now and have for over a decade, this seems like a clearly better alternative. Between the setback from Vernon and much more attractive frontage and park area, this would be a net positive and hardly anyway would notice the height of the building being that far down the main strip of Vernon.

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Rd. St. Dr. Ave.

dilapidated shitholes? Have you actually been on 46th ave between Vernon and 5th? Sure, they’re not tall glass monstrosities… but the buildings are mostly in good shape and have thriving businesses and studios in them. Barney’s design, Bloomingdales and Saks 5th ave shipping, new tech companies, media production, working artists (yes, working), the brewery, a major dance studio is moving in… etc. Sure, I’ll certainly agree that every building isn’t at it’s full potential… but your idea of a “better alternative” would bring the beginning of the end of the great things that are going on here. It’s not like these businesses in these “dilapidated shitholes” aren’t making a good contribution to the area… They bring jobs, and regular customers to local businesses. They also keep much needed business space here. A lot of us both have an apartment and a workspace in the neighborhood. I don’t want to lose that. I’m afraid the Paragon Paint building would put those spaces in serious danger.

sorry for the rant, my basic point though: I disagree with your description of the area.

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Rd. St. Dr. Ave.

I will add… something yes should be done with the Paragon Paint building. I don’t know what… but not THAT.

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MRLIC

Why must they insist on the height they want? MONEY, hat’s why. GREED is still good in NYC. As someone said don’t ruin Vernon Blvd. as they have tried to already.

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D

This is theft, and threat. All buildings on Vernon and within the cocoon of the blocks east to nd through 21st Street respect the need for air, light and lessened population pressure of this special zone. New building going around our small and beautiful local park on 21st Street is low profile. One greedy and clever developer and his lawyers cannot and should not be “exceptional”. You know what, four dozen lawyers for other anti-neighborhood developers will pack the corridors after him and Vernon and nearby quiet streets will vanish. There are long standing agreements in place. Respect them.

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Hmmmm

You guys all realize there’s a 15 story tower going up at 5-35 47th Ave

It’s going to be a hideous addition to the neighborhood and skyline.

At least the Paragon building would be designed by reputable architects. Not saying I’m looking forward to another tower in the neighborhood

More than anything we need more shopping. Affordable retail and not just a bunch of trendy restaurants.

There’s no place to buy socks here. You can’t buy socks in LIC. What does that say about our neighborhood?

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Anonymous

Approval of this monstrosity is the first step in the in the slippery slope of the destruction of the only stretch in LIC that still has any character.

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