re-ignite plans for home port makeover
The city may be close to finalizing a deal with a developer to start the home port redevelopment — several hundred homes that are part of an ambitious but stalled makeover of the former Navy military base in Stapleton.
The New Jersey development company that recently built the swank W Hotel and Residence on the Hudson in Hoboken is considering building at least 350 units of housing at the home port and is reviewing a contract as part of a 30-day review period, according to one source.
But Applied Development Company, described on its Web site as a developer of thousands of residential units and expert in complex, multifaceted projects, could still back out of a home port deal.
The hobbled economy and troubled residential market socked the North Shore just as residential developers were finally realizing its waterfront potential and the city was laying out complementing plans for the home port and nearby lighthouse site, the former home of the U.S. Lighthouse Service located next door to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
Stores, a museum and 150 housing units are planned for the spot, although the developer for that project said yesterday that housing is on hold.
Nearby, home port redevelopment calls for the city to invest $66 million to prepare the formal naval base for private development with a hotel, restaurants, stores, a recreation center and 350 units of housing. But there have been few interested investors since the city began seeking developers almost two years ago.
Seth Pinsky, president of the city Economic Development Corp. (EDC), declined to comment on home port plans during a meeting last month with reporters. He said he hoped to have a deal soon, but cautioned that it was a very “delicate process” made more difficult by the economic downturn, which has already scuttled one potential deal at the site.
“Not surprisingly, the economy is affecting every one of our projects,” Pinsky said last month.
As a result, the EDC has been reworking plans with many developers and focusing on phasing in large-scale projects, he said.
The developers of the planned Lighthouse Point in St. George say they are doing that now.
Triangle Equities of Brooklyn was selected by the city in 2007 to remake the historic but abandoned 19th century Lighthouse Service headquarters with housing, shops, a restaurant and lighthouse museum.
Elysa Goldman, Triangle’s director of development, said yesterday that the company now plans to phase in the project, starting by building two-story storefronts along Bay Street. But the 150 housing units will have to wait, she said.
“Instead of doing it all at once, we intend to do more of the retail up front and the market-rate residential at a later date,” she said.
“Since the time we were awarded [the project], things in the marketplace have obviously changed dramatically. We want to make sure it’s a financially feasible project and that we can get something off the ground that makes economic sense,” added Ms. Goldman.
“We are in talks with the development community, no details are available at this time,” EDC spokeswoman Janel Patterson said yesterday of the home port.
A spokesman for Applied Development Company said he was not aware of it and the company’s president was traveling in Africa and could not be reached for comment.
Whatever developer ends up at the home port, there could be more plan-tweaking. The number of housing units may increase slightly from the planned 350 and may include affordable housing for moderate income buyers.
James Prendamano, broker owner of Casandra Properties, believes better times are just ahead for the North Shore, despite the fact that one of his biggest clients was hit hard by the housing collapse.
Developer Leib Puretz built two new residential buildings along the waterfront, converted a third to condominiums and was in the process of developing other properties when the credit markets dried up and he was unable to refinance loans. Puretz is trying now to renegotiate the defaulted loans.
“It’s terrible luck for Mr. Puretz if he can’t work it out,” said Prendamano. “But it’s a win for Downtown Staten Island because the bricks and mortar are up and someone is going to deliver the units. The buildings don’t disappear — someone comes in and finishes the transaction.”
By KAREN O’SHEA
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE