The Long Beach City Council on Wednesday voted to settle a lawsuit against the owners, past and present, of the long-vacant Superblock property, while a website was launched to solicit community input on a proposal to develop the 6-acre parcel.
Under the settlement, the city would receive $5.2 million from iStar Financial, the present owner, and the former developer, Philip Pilevsky of Philips International, both based in Manhattan. The settlement also requires Pilevsky to reopen a movie theater that the developer owns, Long Beach Cinema 4 on East Park Avenue at Long Beach Boulevard, and install new sewer and water mains from East Park south to the Superblock at Riverside Boulevard.
While development proposals for the Superblock stretch back to the 1970s, the city in 2006 used eminent domain to take the property and transfer ownership to Janow Associates, a subsidiary of Pilevsky Philips International, which proposed to build two towers with 425 condominium units and hotel units, a scaled-back version of an earlier proposal, according to the Long Beach Herald. To finance the project, Pilevsky-led subsidiaries borrowed $51 million from Fremont Investment & Loan and took a mortgage on the property. In 2007, Fremont folded and iStar acquired its assets and soon after Pilevsky defaulted on the loan.
In 2011, the city sued Pilevsky and iStar, claiming millions of dollars in condemnation costs and legal fees must be paid as part of its agreement with the owner and former developer. In April 2012, a state Supreme Court judged denied parts of the city’s claim and pushed the municipality to settle with iStar and Pilevsky, the Herald reports.
With the settlement officially in motion, the Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday on an application submitted by Shore Road-Long Beach Superblock LLC, a subsidiary of iStar, which seeks a height and density variance for mixed residential and commercial development on the property. The proposal is expected to include two 15-story towers, more than 50 feet higher than the city’s 110-feet limit, with more than 500 rental apartments and 950 parking spaces, as well as a promenade with shops and restaurants between the towers and along the boardwalk.
Meanwhile, iStar created a website to promote, solicit input and provide updates on the proposed development. The website appears on a handout featured at Wednesday’s council meeting and is posted on the city’s website. iStar’s site reads:
“Keep your eyes on the empty block overlooking the boardwalk between Long Beach and Riverside Boulevards. An iconic new address is about to take shape there – bringing a whole new kind of energy and excitement to Long Beach NY.“We will share our progress with you at every step. And we would like to hear from you as well. At iStar we not only welcome community involvement, we depend on it.”