Monday, February 4, 2008

East Side in Transition - A Forest Hills 72 Series





Over the last few days, I've discovered a number of projects being pitched that will forever alter the look of Austin Street, east of Continental. I am not against progress, but unchecked building without any cohesion creates 98th Ave in Elmhurst. I'd like to take a look at them one by one and hear your comments. This is a unique area and we should really think before we tear it down.

Remember, this is not the blog of record. It's just what I turned up doing a few internet searches so take it with a grain of salt. Some of the facts might very well be wrong. Don't take this as gospel, please. If you have better information , post it in the comments.

Project #1: The Rezone.

This is the most dramatic of the proposed changes. A group calling itself Forest Hills Joint Venture LLC, formed by two separate owners of five adjacent properties on 72nd Rd (across the street from Queen of Martyrs), have requested that the block be rezoned from a C4-2 (4 stories max) to a R7x (12 stories max).

No one is denying these properties are in need of an overhaul, and probably a knock down. What started as houses have grown into sloppy additions with trailer-like sheds now fronting them, serving as office space. The whole block looks temporary.

Judging by the other upzone requests on the sheet, it could takes years for a decision to be made. Although the community review process is under pressure and might be eliminated. But the fact that this one isn't even listed in the right Community Board shows that CB6 might not even know about it. It's listed for some reason in CB8.
The group looking for the rezone has hired Joseph Morsellino to represent them, who looks like he specializes in this sort of thing. Here is a list of Mr. Morsellino's clients according to NYC.gov. http://www.nyc.gov/lobbyistsearch/search?lobbyist=Joseph+P.+Morsellino

I'm not sure who owns the properties in question. I do know that many of the documents on two of the properties are signed by Mr. Aron Borukhov. An internet search shows there is an Aron Borukhov involved in real estate in Rego Park, but I'm not sure it it's the same.

There also seems to be some kind of affliation with Bindi Skin Care, who shares an office as the 72ND Forest Hills Associates who Mr. Morsellino reports to.

My 72 cents is unless this group has some kind of track record in real estate development, don't do the rezone. A C4-2 with four stories is bad enough, as Baharastani has proven. But when you're talking about 12 stories OFF of Queens Blvd, you're talking about a neighborhood change. And unless it's perfect - and not some kind of Fedders monster, pass on the rezone and let them build it on Queens Blvd. The Forest Hills Joint Venture group have owned these properties for a while and judging by the way they look now, how do we know their lack of taste and vision won't just be supersized with the R7X building?
Your comments are appreciated, just try to keep them civil and relevant.
top photo looking north from Austin St up 72nd Rd by Forest Hills 72