Monday, June 1, 2009

Aqueduct Land Sale Creates Concerns for Ozone Park Infrastructure by Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

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It sounds like a developer's dream: 325,000 square feet of vacant residential land near major highways in Queens is up for sale.

But people who have lived near the Aqueduct Racetrack are worried that the open space, which will go on the auction block June 10, will be replaced with rows of new housing - putting more stress on the local infrastructure in Ozone Park.

"It's the fear of the unknown," said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach). "You are talking about people who have lived there for decades."

The New York Racing Association is hoping the sale of land will help ease their bankruptcy woes.

Real estate auction house David R. Maltz & Co. will offer the property in several ways. Initially, all 64 tax lots will be offered in one package. Then it will be divvied up into 22 bundles and then individual lots. The properties will be sold to generate the highest bids, according to the company. A photo of the parcels is on the auction house firm's Web site:

The company is setting up a bidder seminar the week before the auction to explain the process, said Richard Maltz, vice president of the company's real estate auction division.

Some homeowners have expressed interest in buying property near their homes. Addabbo said he is hoping NYRA will give local residents special consideration.

New homes could worsen flooding problems, he said. It's unclear whether there's enough power to supply new residences.

"We have real concerns about this quiet little area that is going to be changed forever," Addabbo said.

Over the years, some residents have used the vacant land for parking. Many of them were told they would get first crack if the land became available, according to Betty Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10.

John Ryan, NYRA senior vice president and chief administrative officer, said they are not allowed to give preference to any buyers, but provided residents with auction information.