Sunday, February 6, 2011

Howard Beach Site to Become Retail by Anna Gustafson - Queens Chronicle

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A 7.5-acre site at South Conduit Avenue and Linden Boulevard sold to JSB Realty for $4.5 million. The company is expected to turn the site into retail space and a car dealership.
The site of a development that went bust in Howard Beach sold this week for $4.5 million and is expected to become retail stores and an automobile dealership, according to the individual who handled the transaction.

“The previous owner ran out of financing,” said Massey Knakal First Vice President of Sales Stephen Preuss, who handled the Jan. 14 sale of the 7.5-acre site at South Conduit Avenue and Linden Boulevard. “It has been sitting there for about three years untouched.”

Cobblestone Estates, the previous owner, worked with Bank of New York to sell the site to Brooklyn-based JSB Realty.

Massey Knakal officials said there had been an approved plan for a private gated community consisting of 237 units at the site. Additionally, Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton said the area had been rezoned several years ago, after which the community had expected a commercial complex at the site named Lindenwood Commons.

Foundation plumbing and basement floors for 111 units were completed by the previous owner, according to a statement from Massey Knakal. Preuss said Cobblestone Estates likely spent “a few million” on the work that has been done up to now.

Preuss said the new owner, who could not be reached for comment, expects to convert the site into retail space and a car dealership. He did not specify what kind of store or stores may be built at the site, though a statement from Massey Knakal did note the space is “ideal for a prime retail or mixed-used site for a big box national tenancy or strip center.”

The $4.5 million JSB Realty purchased the site for is under market value, in part because the group will likely have to pay millions of dollars to address environmental concerns, according to Preuss.

“There needs to be remediation with the soil,” he said. “It used to be a transfer station.”

Despite the environmental concerns, Preuss said the site was in a prime location.

“This is a very rare opportunity for such a large price of buildable land with dense demographics, high visibility and in close proximity to all major transportation,” he said in a statement.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said he was not surprised the previous owner was unable to complete his plans for the site.

“When I was in the City Council in 2002 and 2003, I had the developers into my office because I had concerns about traffic,” Addabbo said. “Being a former real estate attorney, I said, ‘this gentleman is pricing himself way out of this neighborhood.’”

While Addabbo said he would be pleased with jobs created by incoming development, he remains concerned about traffic patterns and the general “safety of residents.”

“I'll be talking to the developer to relay my concerns and follow up with what is best for the community,” Addabbo said.

Braton too said there would be upcoming talks between residents and the developer about the site.

“The developer can build whatever is as of right to the property considering its zoning,” she said.

Developments going sour is nothing new in this economy, Preuss noted, and said there will be additional sites that will likely be sold because the owners have run out of money.

“There’s a lot of distress out there,” he said. “People will be seeing a lot more of this.”