8 The QUEE NS Courier • april 18, 2013 for breaking news visit www.queenscourier.com BUILDING A BLIGHT BY TERENCE M. CULLEN firstname.lastname@example.org A vacant building in Rego Park has some complaining that the structure is a major eyesore. The commercial strip on Woodhaven Boulevard, between 63rd Road and Dana Court, has rental signs along its windows. Until recently, scaffolding covered almost the entire block. “Of course there’s a problem,” a source said. “There’s been problems for years.” The source, granted anonymity, who identified himself as a former employee of Bridie’s, a bar and grill on the boulevard, said scaffolding had covered the entire block for more than a yearand a-half. He said the structure was intended for work on nearby apartment buildings, but repairs were ever conducted. A business last called the building home about four or five years ago, the source said. Bridie’s, the only establishment on the block, has suffered, the former employee added. The For Rent signs that cover the windows advertise “restaurant, medical, retail, or office Photo by Dominick Totino Photography Flames broke out at the College Point Police Academy, which is currently under construction. Blaze at College Point police academy BY MELISA CHAN email@example.com A fire broke out at the future Queens police academy Tuesday while more than 600 workers were on site, authorities said. Flames erupted at 128-11 28th Avenue in College Point on Tuesday, April 16 around 1:30 p.m., according to the FDNY. Police and fire officials at the scene said the building’s exterior suffered the brunt of the blaze. There was minimal damage inside. “We had a significant fire outside that was extending to the inside of the building,” said FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Robert Maynes. “Once it got inside, we would have had a catastrophic amount of damage.” There were 650 workers at the construction site when the fire began, a law enforcement source said, but none were hurt. The exterior’s atrium enclosure was scorched and a small number of outside panels at the north side of the building will need to be replaced, according to a police source. The cost of the damage is yet to be determined. Construction of the $656 million police academy is not expected to be delayed, the NYPD said. The first phase of the plan is still on track for completion in December. About 175 firefighters responded to the blaze. The cause of the fire is under investigation. A Rego Park building that’s been left mainly vacant for years has many unhappy with its status in the neighborhood. space.” Calls to the phone number on the signs reach an automated message system. Keystone Management, a California-based real estate company, controls the building under High Point Associates LLC, according to a Department of Buildings (DOB) spokesperson. Representatives for Keystone, owned by developer Daniel Shalom, had not returned calls for comment by The Courier as of press THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen time. The vacant building has received a number of violations from the DOB and the Environmental Control Board (ECB), in recent years. It has four unresolved ECB violations, according to the DOB spokesperson. These deal with plumbing work without a permit, failure to maintain a boiler, maintaining building walls and miscellaneous boiler problems. WILLETS POINT PROJECT: Community Board wants more answers BY TERENCE M. CULLEN firstname.lastname@example.org Community Board 7’s Land Use Committee told developers of Willets Point they need to return with more answers on the proposed project before the board makes a decision. Committee members particularly want more information about parking, traffic flow and transplanting the plethora of small business owners within the Iron Triangle. Chuck Apelian, first vice chair and committee head, told development and city representatives things had to be done about existing infrastructure around the area, especially roads and sewers. The joint venture, between Sterling Equities and Related, needs to go through a Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) for a special permit to move Citi Field parking to Willets Point in order to construct a shopping center, dubbed “Willets West.” Without the permit, the project could essentially not go through. Since the massive shopping center next to Citi Field was added to the project, board members found a number of changes from the 2008 plan. To build Willets West, the Parks Department would amend its lease with Queens Ballpark Company, which would be mediated by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). NYCEDC promised it would work to help retrain workers and relocate businesses on the 23 acres on now mostly city-owned land. CB 7 chair Eugene Kelty had an issue with how NYCEDC was moving workers and the small businesses out of the area. Kelty said he needed more answers on the relocation, or he would vote against the plan. “The money they make there, fixing those cars, feeds their families,” he told representatives. Kelty said EDC told CB 7 five years ago that tenants would be relocated before the properties they rented were sold to the city. But Thomas McKnight, an executive vice president for NYCEDC, now said the city cannot legally relocate renters without first buying the property from owners. David Quart, senior vice president of development for NYCEDC, said the agency is working to help move tenant and partnering with The Cornerstone Group, a non-profit workplace training program, to re-educate workers. CB 7 must give a recommendation on the permit application, followed by Borough President Helen Marshall. From there it goes to the Department of City Planning and then voted on by the City Council. Should the joint venture make it through the ULURP, the developers can only go so far in development until new exit ramps are built for the Van Wyck Expressway. The city has promised to foot the bill for the ramps, which would go up between 2021 and 2024 with an estimated $50 million cost at today’s rates. If the city does not hold up its end of the bargain, under any circumstance, affordable housing and other components of the plan will not go through, said Jesse Masyr, one of the lawyers representing the joint venture. “If you’re asking what remedies we as a developer have if the city doesn’t build the ramps, the answer is none,” he said. “We have confidence that the city will build the ramps. It’s part of the overall risk the joint venture is taking.” CB 7’s Land Use Committee will meet with representatives next on Thursday, April 25.
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