A group of investors intends to develop their roughly quarter-acre lot abutting Udall’s Park Preserve if the Parks Department does not accept it as a donation, which would require the city to pay the tax liens on the property and forgive its back taxes.
“We would demand that the city remap and pave roads there as it was mapped originally,” Jonathan Marcus, one of the investors, told the Chronicle. They may try to build condos at the site, which is Block 8112, Lot 70.
Udall’s Park Preservation Committee President Walter Mugdan would be opposed to the Douglaston development.
“We would be deeply and vigorously opposed to it and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so important that this donation be facilitated,” he said.
Due to the New York State Tidal Wetlands Law, the area is under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, according to Mugdan. The agency would have to grant a permit for development, in addition to the issue with road access, which Marcus and his partners intend to resolve if the donation does not happen.
“If we were gonna develop this, we would go to the city and say ‘Hey, you must put roads here,’” Marcus added.
The investors also aim to receive a tax credit from the donation. The tax liens and back taxes are together worth around $24,000.
The zoning for the parcel is R1-2, which only allows single-family detached homes on 60-by-100-foot minimum lots, so a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals would be needed for condos. The lot faces backyards for homes on 247th Street.
“For him to build with a variance, again, it’s a pretty tough sell because he doesn’t even have road access,” land use expert Paul Graziano said. “This guy is making threats and he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.”
“I know that they’d have a hard time with it because it’s an interior lot with no road,” Community Board 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld said. “So, then the city has to allow them to put a road in and I don’t think that’ll happen.”
A Parks Department spokeswoman said that the donation “would be an important addition to the existing limits of Udall’s Park Preserve” and that the agency looks forward to completing the due diligence process with Marcus and his partners, reiterating a previous statement.
“If they’re willing to give us the property and it’s part of the preserve, then they should just take it,” state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said.
“That would seem like a pretty good deal and the public would get additional land,” NYC Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft told the Chronicle. “Especially if the alternative is developing it.”
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) offered to use funds that he had allocated to purchase the tax lien, but he was declined.
“The Department of Finance and Parks came back and said you can’t use city funding to erase a city debt,” Vallone said.
“At this point, we’re confident in saying that our primary goal is to get this lot and any of the remaining lots under the hands of the Udall’s Park Preserve,” the councilman added. “Anytime you hear an owner in that area saying the development word, it’s gonna send shockwaves and warning bells.”