Jan. 10, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Several plots of land adjacent to the Queensboro Bridge, owned by Silvercup Studios and eyed for development for over a decade, have been certified cleared of contamination by the state, giving the movie studio the green light to build on the sites.
The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation said in a Jan. 2018 release that the cleanup requirements for all four parcels of the Silvercup West site were met. The clean up site is bounded by the Queensboro Bridge on the north, a power authority site to the south, Vernon Boulevard on the east, and the East River on the west, with addresses 41-98, 42-02, and 42-16 Vernon Blvd.
Over 8,000 tons of petroleum-contaminated soil were removed from the parcels, along with two underground storage tanks. A buffer was also installed on the site to prevent potential petroleum migration to the East River, and a long term management plan to address any remaining contamination was also developed as part of the cleanup, which began in December 2016.
The state-issued certificate of completion permits Silvercup Studios to take a step forward as part of its drawn out quest to develop the area. The studio’s $1 billion plan, put forth over a decade ago in 2006, calls for the construction of a 2.77 million mixed-use development that expands beyond the cleanup area, with the southern border pegged at 43rd Avenue and encompassing the temporary New York Power Authority facility and Terra Cotta architectural company building.
The six-acre project includes television and film production studios, a health club, a catering facility, cultural amenities, an esplanade, and around 1,000 residential units.
But the Silvercup West site, which was supposed to begin construction in 2006 and be delivered in 2009, remains bare today even after the City Council approved a rezoning of the area over a decade ago to facilitate construction.
Silvercup has not spoken publicly about their development plans for the waterfront site since 2014, when the movie studio’s request to renew special building permits needed for their project was approved by Community Board 2 and the City Planning Commission. The permits include provisions for allowing more parking spaces, changes to the allowed dimensions for the large Silvercup logo that would form part of the development, and other allowances.
While the rezoning remains in effect, the special permits have since expired, a spokesperson for the Department of City Planning said. Silvercup would have to go through the entire ULURP process again if they were to propose a project for the waterfront site that requires special permits, as the one first put forth in 2006 did, the spokesperson added.
Reasons for the project’s delay are unclear, and have included problems with gaining entry into the site for soil testing and issues with decommissioning the NYPA generators on the land that forms part of the project.
But Alan and Stuart Suna, the brothers who founded Silvercup, have ventured into other real estate projects in the interim. The Harrison, their condominium on 44th Drive, opened May 2017. Prior to that, the brothers opened Silvercup North, a production complex in the Bronx, in 2016.
Silvercup did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Silvercup West and potential plans for the waterfront site, now that it has been certified clean of contaminants.