April 7, 2016 By Christian Murray
Opposition against a proposal that would bring a 28-story tower and two other buildings to the Paragon Paint site on Vernon Blvd continues to mount with a neighborhood group calling for the Board of Standard & Appeals to reject the plan.
The Hunters Point Community Coalition, a nonprofit group that was established in the late 1980s to moderate large scale development, has started a petition in opposition to the elaborate plans for the 45-40 Vernon Blvd site.
The petition started shortly after Community Board 2 issued a strong letter to the BSA in opposition to the plan. “We are writing on behalf of CB2 to express its grave concerns and strong opposition” to the proposal, wrote Chairman Patrick O’Brien on behalf of the board.
The board’s opinion is advisory, with the BSA having the ultimate say.
The developers, Simon Baron Development and CRE Development, need a zoning variance in order to build 344 rental apartments on what is a site currently zoned for manufacturing.
The plan includes the construction of a group of buildings, with one being 28 stories and two others being eight stories and 13 stories respectively. The existing Paragon Paint building would be revamped and converted into apartments.
The developers filed an application in October 2015 with the BSA to get a zoning variance. They claim they have spent $20 million cleaning up the toxic site, although details as to what Brownfield credits they will receive for the cleanup have not been made available.
Kenny Greenberg, who lives two blocks from the site, said the members of the Hunters Point Community Coalition believe that the project is too large and is out of scale with the neighborhood. Furthermore, they claim the project would undermine the character of the neighborhood.
The group’s petition also argues that the project would also add to the infrastructure problems in the neighborhood and that the variance would essentially amount to spot zoning that should be avoided until a comprehensive plan of the neighborhood is mapped out.
Greenberg said the group has been gathering signatures online and on paper, and plans to present the petition at the BSA hearing.
Ryan Singer, the executive director for the BSA, said that the BSA hearing dealing with the site is likely to take place in summer. He was unable to be more specific.
Hunters Point was rezoned in 2004 and the community made a point of keeping buildings low rise on or near Vernon Blvd, Greenberg said. The taller buildings were to be located on the waterfront.
Greenberg is hopeful that the BSA will listen to the group’s claims.
“The BSA is changing and is becoming more responsive to the community,” he said.
Greenberg, who has lived in Long Island City since 1988, said that it is important that the BSA gets to hear from people who live close by and know the history of the area.
Members of the HPCC have been holding informal gatherings in recent months and have decided to come together with one voice. The group has largely been inactive in recent years.
The group plans to raise money and hire an attorney to ensure that its views are heard properly at the BSA hearing, Greenberg said.
QNS was first to report on the story.