Friday, January 09, 2009

Update on Pfizer Site: A bid from Quadriad?

An anonymous tipster informs me that Quadriad Realty Partners has put a bid in on the Pfizer site discussed in yesterday's post. The 10-acre site (aerial view here) has sat empty save for a charter school since Pfizer left in 2007, and was the subject of an attempted land-grab in Albany earlier this year. The Quadriad plan was described as a "large, mixed-use proposal," something that Pfizer had expressed interest in initially, offering their former plant building as a community education center. Hopefully the plans will be forthcoming--as it sits now, the site is a concrete tundra (though a few new condo developments are on the rise to the west of the parking lots, across Flushing from the Marcy Homes).

Quadriad has made waves in Brooklyn recently with their proposed high-rise development (fabulous comic in that article) between Berry and Bedford on 3rd in Williamsburg. Initial plans pegged tower heights at up to 38 floors, despite existing zoning laws that forbid buildings of that size in the area. Community members have voiced all sorts of concerns, captured well by the bloggers at Gowanus Lounge (articles here and here, with links to more), so the current construction will only stand five stories tall (rendering here). The original designs included a block of affordable housing units (developer-defined), but it doesn't appear that the current building will contain any.

Quadriad (or their graphic designer, anyway) asserts that they are "dedicated to creating affordable housing in up-and-coming neighborhoods." They're headed up by Henry Wollman, a developer and architect (he designed the Or Zarua Synagogue in Manhattan) who was the first director of the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch College. Mr. Wollman has long shown interest in developing Brooklyn, chairing a 2000 conference titled "Brooklyn Ascendant: Metropolitan New York's Second City." His remarks as chair of a roundtable on "Brooklyn's Residential Future" are available here. Longtime NYC pol and former Bronx Borough President Herman Badillo also has a stake in Quadriad (the linked article from Brownstoner does not take kindly to Badillo's involvement in efforts secure a new zoning deal in Williamsburg).

The Pfizer site has already sparked controversy, bu it seems Quadriad won't shy away from such things. The community battles will be of a different sort on Flushing, as this liminal zone between Bed-Stuy and Williamsburg has been depopulating (PS 297K, which sits directly behind the Pfizer plant on Park Avenue, houses 350 students where it once served nearly 1,000), in part thanks to Pfizer's departure. The challenge here will be less about pleasing those still living nearby and more about winning over the parties who want to lead the shaping of the neighborhood's future.

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