Dec. 21, 2015 By Christian Murray
A public meeting is planned to take place in Long Island City next month where the developers of the Paragon Paint building will provide the community with details of their plans.
The owners of the 45-40 Vernon Blvd. property are seeking a zoning variance so they can develop three residential buildings alongside the old factory. The meeting, scheduled for Jan. 20, will provide residents with an opportunity to ask the developers questions about this project. A location for the meeting has yet to be determined.
The proposal includes a 28-story tower that would be attached to the Paragon Paint building, as well as two other buildings that would be 13 stories and eight stories, respectively.
The development, which will include 14,000 square feet of retail space and a large public park that opens onto Anable Basin, is spread over three contiguous parcels. The plans call for 334 rental apartments, of which 103 would be deemed affordable.
The plan received significant pushback from Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee last Wednesday.
Community Board 2 Chair Pat O’Brien told developers Brent Carrier and Matt Baron that the Board was concerned by the project’s height and scale given its Vernon Boulevard location.
“We have problems with density, bulk, height and the fact that it changes the nature of the neighborhood,” O’Brien said.
Lisa Deller, chair of the Land Use Committee, said Hunters Point was built around the concept that the tallest buildings were to be located by the East River, with smaller buildings toward Vernon Blvd.
“If it were 12 stories it would be one thing. But it is 28 stories, a huge shift,” Deller said.
Last Wednesday marked the second time the developers had come to CB 2 with the proposal. O’Brien told the developers that given the Board’s initial feedback at a November Land Use meeting, he said he was surprised that they hadn’t put forward other concepts such as a shorter building with a larger base or suggested community facilities.
The developers are seeking a variance because the Paragon site is currently zoned for manufacturing (M1-4). They are able to develop a hotel as of right, which would limit the height to about 10 stories.
However, the developers said a hotel project would be economically unfeasible given the $20-plus million cost to clean up the toxic site that has housed the old paint factory for 80 years.
While a significant portion of the $20 million is likely to be subsidized by the Brownfield Cleanup Program (as much as $10 million), developers said the remaining cost is still a burden and is driving the need for the variance.
Howard Goldman, the attorney for the developer, added that even if a hotel were possible, it would require construction on the entire site, thereby ending the possibility of the public park.
“[With the proposed project] we are dedicating a third of the 54,000 square feet land area to open space,” Goldman said, amounting to 18,000 square feet of open space.
The plan provides access to the park via public space that would be between the tower and a 13-story building that is also planned for Vernon Boulevard. The open area would then lead down to a half-acre park adjacent to Anable Basin for public use.
The 28-story tower would be set back 50 feet back from Vernon Blvd, just about the width of a narrow street. He said that it is pushed right back to ensure the feel of Vernon Boulevard does not change.
The eight-story building would be on 46th Avenue, while the Paragon Paint building would be revamped in order to accommodate residential tenants.
Goldman said the revamping of the old Paragon Paint building, as opposed to demolishing it, is just further evidence that they are trying to maintain the integrity of Vernon Blvd.
Furthermore, Goldman said after the meeting that the tower would be located on the water – like the East River developments – so it should be viewed as a waterfront site as opposed to a smaller-scale building on Vernon Boulevard.
Matt Baron argued the 28 stories should not be viewed in a vacuum, but should be judged for its total impact on the surroundings.
For example, he noted that developers are cleaning up a toxic site, which was deemed “a significant threat to human life” by the New York State Department of Health before the site was purchased. Baron also said that the creation of the open space ensures that other buildings will have a “view corridor” to the water. Furthermore, he noted the 103 affordable apartments that would be created and said that the retail space could also be filled by much-needed commercial tenants, such as a supermarket or a drug store.
He said this space, however, was not big enough to house a school.
The Board asked the developers to put together some alternative plans where the tower would be shorter.
“We look at this [site] as the first in a potential wave of precedent-setting developments,” O’Brien said.
Goldman said that the tower allows the developer to open up the space for the public park. He said the alternative would be shorter buildings that would cover a larger portion of the land, reducing space for the public park.
“If you want to keep open space then the building gets tall,” he said. “The design concept is to maximize the open space which results in a taller building.”
Baron said the smaller the park becomes, the “less inviting it will be.” He said a shorter building that covers a greater portion of the site would merely be “a compromise on paper.” He said it would reduce the quality of the park.
But Deller at the Board meeting was more focused on the potential scale of the building than the park.
“In the hierarchy of priorities, the height and bulk is what we need to get at. The park is lovely – it’s lovely icing on the cake.”
MRLIC nails it
In regards to the pedestrian malls along Jackson Avenue, there are pros and cons. Pedestrian safety and beautification, pros. Loosing the center of the road that was marked off with yellow pavement markings and was essentially a Fire Lane allowing emergency vehicles to bypass traffic, con.
In regard to the person who said no one regularly bowls anymore. I find this not true as upstate and midwest even California have quite a few. The reason we don’t have any here is the property is worth more than the Lanes would be worth to the developers. I also reason that;s why LIC has very few of the things a neighborhood needs to be a neighborhood. As for Yuppies and Hipsters so to speak many are rude self centered and feel entitled. Many have trust funds and are supported by Mommy and Daddy money bags. As for the 2 years to stay in LIC and move I agree with the person who said to stay out don’t bother. To person who said the partitions help on Jackson Ave with pedestrian safety, just watch people climbing over these partitions every day. I would say that is very dangerous than just the wide Ave. The city should have put little islands in the middle not shrubbery and high walls. With the right leadership not Van Bramer or DeBlasio or Mark-Viverito LIC could be a nicer place than it is now.
“He said this space, however, was not big enough to house a school.”.. What?
If they can’t find space in this development for a school, where they hell are we going to find space? Maybe float one over the east river? above the railroads?
Are they kidding with the park thing? We already have 22 acres in amazing park space between Gantry and Hunters Point South Park (with more to come), a sports field and a handful of dog runs. We need a school more than we need a park. Make the building shorter, make it wider, ditch the park and add a school. Open space is great but in this situation, we need to prioritize. Building a very tall building and a park can ruin the neighborhood in more ways than one.
Also, I second the comment above me. We need some more fun things to keep people here on weekends. A small movie theater and a bowling alley would be excellent additions and make the neighborhood feel like more of a community.
Parks along the waterfront are a good thing and it is now or never so I am surprised to hear anyone say we don’t need more parks. Schools will come soon. Maybe a Whole Foods will finally open in this new building. LIC is an overpriced, evolving neighborhood of mostly rental properties. Nobody stays here for more than 2 years. It has become a 2 year last ditch effort for young families to get a little more city before giving in to the suburbs. That may not change for a long time.
To anyone else out there thinking of putting your two years in LIC before moving to greener pastures, do us lifers a favor and please stay the hell out. Your presence in my neighborhood is neither necessary nor desired. Thank you very much, and Merry Christmas.
Maybe it is time for you lifers to spend less time whining about change and yuppies on licpost and more time packing your bags. Brooklynmc very accurately describes where this neighborhood is going. Get over it.
Nice try, Frank! I’ve got nothing against positive change and welcome all the new residents who have come aboard the LIC train to raise families here and stay for the long haul. They are committed to making the neighborhood improve. But fly by nighters who swoop in, party their asses off for a couple of years and then leave without making any lasting imprint on the place are clearly not necessary. They are not the ingredients of a great neighborhood — never have and never will be. Thanks, Frank, for the comment anyway! And hope you have a Merry Christmas!
I would take a better night life and increasing property value over whatever you are peddling any day of the week. Positive change would be flushing all those pissing and moaning about transient residents down the toilet. At least the transient residents push out long time underperforming businesses (looking at you, Waterfront Crabhouse) and demand decent establishments (hello Casa Enrique and Maiella).
Do you own or rent?
10 year resident, and hoping to stay for at least another 3 provided the infrastructure and idiocy of development don’t force me out sooner (I own). For once (EVER!) I agree with CB2 – the height is not a good idea. While green spaces are always welcome, they shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip to get what these greedy developers need to pay their (already subsidized) bills.
Keep the height low, and keep Vernon charming (and by charming, I mean short and small town feeling, not NIMBY anti new business).
I guess you could call me a hybrid of the new school vs old.
Can’t wait for the bowling alley!
LIC has been ruined forever by King Bloomberg. He said mixed use would be built, but he meant Luxury Condos and hotels. It is overcrowded now, just look at the trains and platforms and roads. How about a real bowling lanes instead of Yuppie rock climbing places. How about a pool hall or movie theater. Why did they partition Jackson Ave at Court Square where you can only turn left. What stupid person thought that up. The trucks have to make wide turns and buses have to wait for some parked cars to move when turning from under the # 7 train El. LIC is now for the rich only.
A bowling alley was already announced. Pool hall and movie theater is only 1 mile from the center of LIC. 36th ave and 37th st. Rock climbing isn’t only for the rich. They partitioned Jackson Ave. because it’s a wide street. Pedestrian safety doesn’t matter to you?
The whole “this is my neighborhood” thing does not work in NYC. The city is constantly changing. Referring to a rock climbing business as a “yuppie” place just makes you sound bitter. I have been displaced many times over the last 25 years. So has just about everyone. You have a point about the infrastructure. I think the city needs to look at other options such as trams and ferries that should be run by the MTA. And soon. As for your bowling alley, good luck. Nobody regularly bowls anymore.
We need a new school, not more of 28 story buildings!
I am more concerned about the air pollution and toxic aftermath of the construction. That seems to be the bigger issue. I really don’t care how many stories. That block is the most contaminated ground in L.I.C
The project is way too large and out of scale for the neighborhood. The contamination is just part of the equation. Contamination found on that block is the same as the contiguous block and is just a developers ploy to get more development yield.
Why not make every new building 28 stories and see if people can squeeze onto the 7 train platforms without being pushed onto the tracks. Developers keep building and the Mayor and CB2 don’t seem to consider what this is doing to our strained infrastructure.