The lot on Cross Bay Boulevard between 149th Avenue and North Conduit Avenue in Ozone Park has sat vacant, surrounded by a fence, for more than a decade. Back then, a giant sign on the fence at the site, which sits adjacent to the Magnolia Court housing development, advertised a strip mall or commercial center that would be built to suit a potential buyer.
That sign is gone now and the fence, now covered in graffiti, is also starting to show its age.
But that may soon change, as the developer who owns the site says he expects to start work there this winter.
The new owner is Platinum Realty, a Brooklyn-based developer that has built strip malls in Brooklyn and Metro Plaza at 71st Street and Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills. It is also constructing a new strip mall at a former gas station site at Rockaway Boulevard and Centreville Street, about a mile away.
Dave Koptiev, a representative from Platinum Realty, said they are hoping to break ground on a strip mall on the site once they get final approval from the Department of Buildings, which he hopes will be very soon.
“We’re just waiting for our permits, which we expect will come in the next few weeks, and then we can put shovels in the ground,” he said.
Koptiev confirmed that a strip mall is to be built on the site, but said there were no tenants yet.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said the piece of land was owned by the Avellino Group until it was sold to Platinum last year and it had been maintained well up until recently.
“Whenever we asked to fix it up, the Avellino Group was pretty quick to fix it,” he said. “I’m a little concerned with how it looks now.”
A number of residents have complained about the condition of the site.
Addabbo said there had been a number of problems over the years that have hindered development including issues Avellino had with the city Department of Environmental Protection over the condition of the site and zoning issues concerning one of the lots.
He added that both the new and former developers were concerned over the flow of traffic to a proposed parking lot there.
“Southbound traffic would have to go into Howard Beach in order to make the U-turn to access the strip mall,” Addabbo said. “The owner wanted a left turn lane but we have a ton of traffic concerns over there already.”
Howard Kamph, president of the Ozone Park Civic Association, said he had been in touch with Platinum over the site and was told the work would begin there as soon as the project at Rockaway and Centreville was completed. Though the strip mall there has not yet opened, the structure is built.
Both strip malls are being built as of right. The site on Rockaway and Centreville was formerly a gas station, while the lot on Cross Bay and Conduit has been vacant for decades, but is zoned for commercial use.
Old neighborhood maps place a small dead-end street, Jeagers Lane, on the site, but that street has long been demapped by the city.