Gary Barnett and Extell Reveal What We Should Expect from their Pathmark Site Development

Posted on: June 19th, 2014 at 5:19 am by
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Both tempers and temperatures dominated last night during Extell’s town hall at the Land Use subcommittee of Community Board 3. El Jefe Gary Barnett himself – with a gaggle of suits in tow – attended to reveal plans and field questions regarding his twin tower project on the former site of Pathmark. To their credit, the group remained well past 9pm.

For the moment, Extell is laser-focused on the affordable housing component of its multi-million-dollar development, and this was the crux of their presentation. Plans include a separate 13-story building at 229 Cherry Street specifically for low-income tenants, with designer Datter Architects on board. The residential composition of this structure is 205 total units (50% earmarked for residents) broken down as follows: (1) 49 studios, (2) 50 1BR’s, (3) 105 2BR’s, and (4) 1 spot for the super. The base of both buildings will incorporate both a supermarket and drug store.

(Plans are not yet finalized for the larger 68-story dwelling)

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Gary Barnett of Extell Development Co.

The deck was brief and followed by an intense interrogation, both by the panel and the community at large. The main theme – separate but equal is not equal. A host of committee members and neighborhood residents voiced their concerns about being “segregated” from a 68-story blight with market-rate units. How being separated would adversely affect services in this building. Questions abounded as to why Extell couldn’t incorporate the affordable housing into the luxury tower.

We were told that the development is privately funded and would eventually transfer to a new owner (or, at the very least, new management). As for the housing component, it was done this way to maximize the developer benefits of tax breaks through 421A abatement program. Mixing wasn’t possible, from their perspective, because the costs and logistics of doing so would be prohibitive to both design and budget; the money would allegedly be astronomical and the height of the 68-story building would need an additional 14 stories. (Pity the poor developer)

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As for the “vibrant retail presence” they hope to achieve, Barnett and company took to heart the concerns of inputting a cheap grocery. He assured the room that he’d push for that outcome, and mentioned that Pathmark actually has the right of first refusal on the bi-level, 25,000 square-foot space. He even played the crowd for viable suggestions (Shop Rite won out).

Barnett stooped further with the “I’m one of you” shtick, revealing that he was actually born right near the project site. He reiterated that he’s “excited to come back to my old neighborhood … where I played Edgies,” and that it’s “kind of fun.” But that “enhancing” the area was of paramount importance here. Nevertheless, he was consistently humbled by the locals during the Q&A, called out for being too insensitive, etc. And, again to his credit, he seemed apologetic and patient as the night wore on (but he’s still making a killing by invading the neighborhood).

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Other concerns included the eventual flood of humanity and how the transportation and service infrastructure here is pretty much non-existent. There is the M15 stop on Pike Street and the F stop at East Broadway. That’s pretty much it. There aren’t many hospitals or schools, either. Locals hoped that Extell could take all this into consideration while on the path of planning.

Many are also worried about security at the now-destroyed plot. Lighting is low and there aren’t many security guards around. And to that end, Barnett intimated that one of the watchmen was actually robbed recently.

It’s also worth mentioning that somewhere in the middle of all this, one outspoken resident nearly filibustered the evening with his attack of Community Board 3 of being racially insensitive while simultaneously commending Extell for its efforts.

Excavation on 229 Cherry Street should begin within the next three months. Extell hopes to have both buildings constructed in three-and-a-half years.

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