Jan. 24, 2019 By Nathaly Pesantez
An entire Queens Plaza block currently home to a parking lot and one of the area’s last warehouses has recently sold for just under $80 million.
Criterion, an Astoria-based developer, purchased two parcels with addresses of 22-09 Queens Plaza North and 22-09 41st Ave. for $79.95 million on Jan. 8 in a sale that covers an entire block adjacent to the Queensboro Bridge on-ramp.
The block is bordered by 23 and 22nd Streets to the east and west, 41st Avenue to the north, and Queens Plaza North to the south.
The brick warehouse on site stretches from Queens Plaza North to about mid-block back, with two and one-story levels. The back of the site, toward 41st Avenue, sees a large parking and outdoor storage facility for construction vehicles.
The properties, up until the purchases earlier this month, were owned by PEC Realty Corp., which is under Allan Briteway Electrical Contractors, a New Jersey-based company.
While the sale was completed this month, records indicate that the properties had been in contract to be purchased by Criterion since 2014, and that PEC Realty Corp. had actually sued the buyer over the value of the properties and the purchase agreement at the time.
The lawsuit, which was dismissed in 2017, said the two parties had agreed on a basic sale price of $70 million for the lots, which would go up to $80 million if Criterion sought a zoning change for the properties, according to a Queens County Supreme Court filing.
Criterion had discussed its plans with the Department of City Planning, which oversees rezonings, but the agency told the prospective buyer that it was already looking to rezone a large swatch of Long Island City, which may include the properties in question. The DCP advised Criterion to drop its rezoning application as a result.
After the rezoning went through and the value of the lots “skyrocketed,” the owner took Criterion to court, alleging that it was under no obligation to sell the properties to the developer because it had failed to rezone the lots itself.
Criterion, however, then offered PEC the maximum price for the lots as agreed to prior to the rezoning.
Given the developer’s offer, which Justice Marguerite Grays said PEC “could hope to realize…regardless of zoning matters” in her December 2017 order, the case was dismissed, and the purchase then finalized.
New building and demolition filings have yet to be filed for the properties, and it is unclear what Criterion is planning on building, although the LLC it conducted the purchase under is called “Queensboro Tower.”
Despite the legal troubles stemming from the city pursuing its own rezoning that may have enveloped the properties in contract, Criterion’s lots remain under manufacturing zones, only, City Planning maps show, indicating that the buyer may have to submit its own rezoning application to build a sky-high mixed-use tower that mirrors recent developments in the Queens Plaza area.