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Queens Chronicle

A lake where a building would do

CB 2 wants city to seize control of abandoned site on Vernon Blvd.

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Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:48 pm, Thu Mar 1, 2012.

Nestled between a Department of Education office and a Con Edison building on Vernon Boulevard, hidden behind graffitied plywood fencing, is an enormous abandoned lot with a water-filled hole which Community Board 2 says people have dubbed “Lake Vernon.”

The lake has a million-dollar view — or in this case, multi-million-dollar view — that was originally intended for the residents of a massive development project called “River East.” The project, at 44-02 Vernon Blvd., was to have included two 29-story towers and smaller properties accommodating nearly a thousand apartments, according to published reports.

But the project has long since stalled and its developers are mired in foreclosure litigation, according to a spokesman for Durst Fetner Residential, which owns a $32 million note on the project. CB 2 would like the city to take over.

In its Fiscal Year 2013 request to the Borough President’s Office, the board wrote that the site is “a serious threat to the safety and quality of life to all those who live and work in close proximity.”

CB 2 would like the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to seize control of the site, with the ultimate goal of transforming it into affordable housing.

But Durst Fetner still has hopes of buying the property outright.

“We would like to own the site,” said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the company. However, the foreclosure proceeding is “just winding its way through the courts.” He estimated it would be more than a year until the case is settled.

The owners of the project — Baruch Singer and Marshall Weisman — were involved in legal squabbles with each other, according to court documents. They’ve declared bankruptcy, according to Barowitz and CB 2.

Weisman, who runs several companies, including H&C Development and others, could not be reached for comment.

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