Representatives from the Mattone Group spoke before the Community Board 4 Zoning Committee meeting on Tuesday to address questions concerned board members have about the group’s new project.
The project, which would take the 2.3-acre property located between the Queens Center mall and the Long Island Expressway and convert it into three restaurants: Joe’s Crab Shack, Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden.
“We tried a lot of different things out, at least 10 or 15 proposals that we tried and failed,” a representative said. “Over time the restaurant chains showed an interest and the family-style would fit great in the area. It’s considerably smaller than what we originally anticipated with the movie theater.”
The meeting was short and the Mattone Group only spoke for several minutes but some committee members were not pleased with the lack of information they received.
“I’m happy that you were able to join us and answer some questions but I am disappointed that EDC [Economic Development Group] didn’t send a representative to clarify things for us either,” one board member said.
In 2001, Mattone signed a contract with the EDC, promising to build a movie theater on the plot in four and a half years. The developer also agreed to buy the Elmwood Theater across the street and donate all proceeds to the Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens. If the conditions were not met, the city could buy the lot back for $1. The Newtown Civic Association has claimed that the deal is fishy as the group did not fulfill its end of the contract but still owns the property.
The EDC had CB 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol read a statement that said much of the traffic mitigation and other recommendations are unnecessary now because the new project is so small.
“I just think we have so many restaurants to begin with,” CB 4 member Audrey Galligen said. “I’d much rather they put the 110th Precinct there.”
Building a new precinct on the Elmwood Theater land was just one of many recommendations originally made by CB 4. After answering two questions, the Mattone representatives immediately left the meeting.