Astoria residents had more than one reason to give thanks this Thanksgiving.

December 4, 2008 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

Locals cheered after Con Edison announced shortly before the holiday that it had scrapped plans to sell 21 acres on the Astoria waterfront to a developer who wanted to build a distribution center for FedEx.

“This is the appropriate time of year to give thanks that Con Ed made the right decision,” said Rosemarie Poveromo, president of Astoria’s United Community Civic Association.

Con Ed opted to back out of talks with Long Island developer Steel Equities because the state Public Service Commission – which would have needed to approve the sale – wanted the deal to be made through public auction or a competitive bid process.

“The PSC has indicated we should reevaluate our process for selling real estate,” said Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert.

Con Ed and Steel Equities had yet to forge a contract, so an application had not been made to the PSC.

Anne Dalton, a PSC spokeswoman, said the commission did not order the utility to drop the talks.

Assemblyman Michael Giannaris (D-Astoria), a vocal critic of Con Ed, said what is most important is that talks are dead.

“It is not often I get to say that Con Edison has acted in accordance with the wishes of the community,” he said.

The potential deal – in the works for some two years – drew opposition from Astoria residents, who feared a FedEx distribution hub would worsen the area’s traffic.

“The community wasn’t going to sit back and allow a deal like this to go through,” said Astoria businessman Gus Prentzas, 41.

Steel Equities, which did not return calls seeking comment, had been seeking to construct a $151 million distribution center and lease the site to FedEx for 20 years.

Con Ed had been asking “in the neighborhood of $50 million” for the land, a source said. But a real estate expert previously told Queens News the property could fetch as much as $70 million.

FedEx had hoped to make it the home base of its business-to-business shipping operation, currently based in Maspeth.

The hub would have been serviced by about 80 delivery trucks and 50 tractor-trailers each day.

Astoria residents complained that the area already hosts multiple power plants, a sewage treatment center, LaGuardia Airport and Rikers Island prison.

“This community has been under assault,” Poveromo said.

Con Ed – under fire for a recent 18% rate hike and a spate of deadly accidents – is now “reevaluating” its options for the “unused space,” Olert said.

Giannaris said development of the property must provide waterfront access for the community.

BY JOHN LAUINGER
Daily News

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Entry filed under: Go Coastal, Public Waterfront, Queens. Tags: , , , , .

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