BY JON CRONIN
The 17-story Ridgewood Tower project by AB Capstone Builder’s Corp is anticipated to move forward— but although the lot is currently up for sale, there has been no recent activity at the site.
Raquel Namuche, the founder of the Ridgewood Tenants Union, said that the community has long protested the project, which residents believe would lead to the neighborhood becoming unaffordable.
“Rents in Ridgewood have gone up higher and higher in the past five years,” Namuche said. “This project could bring the rent further up.”
The three lots’ addresses are 3-50 and 3-36 St. Nicholas Ave and 54-27 Myrtle Ave. The mixed-used building would include 180,000 square feet at 3-50 St. Nicholas Ave., according to plans filed with the city in 2015. The first five floors would contain approximately 90,000 square feet of commercial space.
The 30,000-square-foot first floor would be exclusively retail. Floors three through five would have office space and be approximately 60,000 square feet. There will be two floors of parking facilities, including the basement, which would have 210 spaces, and a second floor with 140 spaces.
Although AB Capstone did not return calls as of press time, Namuche said that she had heard the development is having problems with financing and this is why the site, which was bought for $8 million, is now for sale by real estate company Kushman and Wakefield for $35 million.
She believes the developers will create luxury apartments, but not for the people in the community.
“People in the neighborhood don’t want this to go up,” she said. “It will not benefit our community whatsoever.”
In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Long Island City) wrote that the project could negatively affect the community’s quality of life.
“Once completed, this development will have a profound effect on infrastructure, schools, price of rental units and has the ability to negatively affect the quality of life for our existing and potential new residents of Ridgewood and the surrounding area,” she wrote.
Nolan said that the mayor should work with Community Board 5 to come up with a better zoning plan that would support the neighborhood, so that large buildings could not be built “as-of-right.”
Namuche said that the community was initially concerned about the project when it was profiled in The Real Deal two years ago. The article labeled it as one of the top 10 most anticipated projects in the five boroughs.
“People from all over the city have an eye on this,” she said of the project.
Since then, the tenants union has organized with 1819 Cornelius Street and continued to gain allies against the development. Last year, the two groups organized a march to protest the project.
Like much of western Queens, Namuche said that she and her neighbors have noticed a population boom in the past five years. She believes that the Ridgewood Tower is symbolic of this gentrification.
Namuche said that the residents with whom she speaks want a community center, daycare center and more affordable housing in the neighborhood. She added that Ridgewood’s median income is in the range of $42,000 per year.
“Often, when the city talks about affordable housing, they’re not talking about the neighborhood median income,” she said. “It should be based on that, that’s what we would like to see.”
Nolan said that she sides with the Ridgewood community in its fight for affordable housing and hopes that local businesses get a chance to nab commercial space in the tower.
Although work was scheduled to begin on the tower in November, there has been no current activity at the site, Namuche said.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.