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The city has declared that it will not be considering landmark status for the former Gelmart site in College Point, despite loud opposition from local residents and leaders to a plan to overhaul it.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) wrote the city Landmarks Preservation Commission last month, shortly after architect Raymond Chan’s $7 million to $8 million proposal to redevelop the site as a massive mixed-use complex came to light, to request that the aging building be designated a city landmark.
But construction is already underway on the project, and sections of the building have been demolished. The Landmarks Preservation Commission responded last week to Avella, saying that it will not undertake a full review of the project to determine if it should be landmarked because a senior staff committee ruled that the work has changed the property’s condition too significantly to warrant such protection.
Avella said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling.
“This community is already experiencing serious traffic pressures and the developer has refused to conduct a traffic study that would obviously highlight the impact this project will have on the area,” he said. “I’m still not sure that the 124 parking spaces that are currently included in the plans are sufficient.”
The project, at 20-07 127th St., is going in as-of-right, meaning that it did not have to go before Community Board 7 or undergo other community reviews. Avella wrote the city Department of Buildings last months to request that it look into whether any violations have been issued against the property, but the department has not publicly responded to his inquiry.
Chuck Apelian, vice chairman of CB 7, told Chan last month that he needs to respect the community’s concerns.
“You have a lot of uses that are going to bulk up the parking and the traffic,” Apelian told Chan. “You’re going to need a lot of help on this project, you’re going to need curb-cut help, you’re going to need one-way help .... If you want our help, I want your help now. I want you to keep in mind now, while you’re working on the project, to keep in mind the impacts this project will have on the surrounding community.”
Chan said last month that he is “all ears” if the city wants to take steps to relieve traffic, but that because the site is zoned M-1, there are few restrictions.
Chan said the project, dubbed Point 128, will include a 114-room, environmentally-conscious, independently-run boutique hotel called Hotel de Point; 124 parking spots; restaurants; retail stores; and a rooftop cafe.
He said the L-shaped, 140,000-square-foot building — expected to open early next year — will also include an organic farmer’s market, supermarket, 200-person conference center, home center, Laundromat, office space, food court and probably a Denny’s restaurant as well as more than a dozen retail shops to include a florist, pizzeria, tea house, clothier, Mexican restaurant, souvenir shop and more.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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