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Developers Pitch Two 15-story Buildings at Superblock

Zoning board to vote on iStar proposal next month.

A rendition of iStar's development proposal for the Superblock property in Long Beach. (Credit: Joe Kellard)
A rendition of iStar's development proposal for the Superblock property in Long Beach. (Credit: Joe Kellard)

Developers on Thursday officially unveiled plans to build two 15-story buildings on the long-vacant Superblock property in Long Beach, which some residents called a welcomed sight, while others decried the development as too tall. 

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Manhattan-based iStar Financial, a publicly traded company that will finance and build the luxury highrises, said the development will consist of 522 rental apartments and 11,500 square feet of commercial space that would consist of six to eight retail shops and restaurants accessibly only from the boardwalk. The 6-acre, 700-foot-wide beachside property would also feature 937 parking spaces, both outside, on both sides of the towers, and in a parking structure at the north end of the property that is bound by East Broadway between Long Beach and Riverside boulevards.

Representatives of iStar, armed with several oversized boards of blueprints and colorful artists’ renditions of the development, presented their proposal that seeks a height and density variance to the Long Beach Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday. The 160-foot buildings are approximately 50 feet higher than is allowable at the property, which was rezoned in 2002 to allow for a 110-foot building, city attorney Corey Klein said.

In answer to questions about the economic viability of the development, Karl Frey, iStar’s executive vice president, indicated that it was highly unlikely the company would abandon the proposed development, suggesting it had the financial wherewithal to follow through on its $200 million investment to finish the project and not leave the property vacant.

“We’re an extremely well capitalized investor,” Fry said. “ … Here, we’re acting as our own developer.”

Peter Scherer, an East Walnut Street resident, was among the opponents of the proposal that expressed concern about the height of the towers, calling them “too big.” Scherer continued: “We don't want to see them finish a project that we have to live with forever.”

Others opposed the project on their belief that it will exacerbate parking and traffic problems in town. “You cannot ignore the parking,” said Nassau County Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach), a 34-year resident of the West End. "This is adding pain to an already distressed area.”

Many people who voiced support for the development believe that the towers, shops and restaurants are the best use for the property, which has remained vacant for 28 years, and that it would provide needed tax revenue. 

“I think this project sounds like a quality project that will benefit Long Beach,” said Karan Adamo, a Canals resident and local real estate agent, who noted that iStar’s targeted renters, retirees and young professionals, represent the growing demographics among new city residents.

Michael Kerr, president of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, was another supporter. 

“The building will be paying taxes greater than the existing vacant property is paying now,” Kerr said. “I believe the city will receive an additional $2 million and about $4 million additional for the schools.”

Thursday’s zoning board hearing was held a day after the Long Beach City Council voted unanimously to approve a settlement between the city and current and prior owners and developers of the Superblock, the name locals gave the property when its development was first proposed in the 1970s. iStar, the present owner, and Philip Pilevsky of Philips International, the former lead developer of the site, were named in the city’s suit claiming millions dollars in condemnation costs and legal fees.

The zoning board trustees are expected to vote on iStar’s proposal at the next meeting on Feb. 27 at City Hall.

Trying to Make Sense February 18, 2014 at 09:20 AM
Weak, faux Eddie. The variance request is "owned" by the people through its ZBA. No one has suggested the land owner can't build to code.
beachbingo February 18, 2014 at 10:27 AM
Trying-- Do you suppose 100 townhome units, as shown on the website attached (Myrtle Beach, SC), in some configuration could be developed on the Superblock? If they could be built for what they sell them for in SC and sold for $150,000 profit each in LB that might come to $15 million gross profit less land and soft costs? This is purely off the top of my head, but it seems there may be a number "feasible" approaches given existing code but differing in character between the "Myrtle Beach approach" and the 500+ units iStar has rendered. http://www.c21theharrelsongroup.com/south-beach-cottages/
Eddie February 18, 2014 at 11:40 AM
No not owned by the people in anyway. I guess you want to pay more millions in settlement for trying to take land that is not yours. The ZBA will do what they want. If you want to stop it- buy it. But do it soon. It does appear the goal is to push people out who have lived here for generations in the name of profit. I hear mastic beach is still reasonable. Good luck - God Bless- I'll still be here.
Trying to Make Sense February 19, 2014 at 09:02 AM
Beachbingo, it seems that until a real calculation involving land costs, construction costs, taxes and fees in LB versus Myrtle is calculated, it would be impossible to know. As I have noted in the past, a person with expertise in assessing locations for a major hotel chain told me that those factors were the inconvenient truth that limits the possibilities in LB. My guess is that it explains why developers have not been climbing over one another's backs to get a crack at developing this ultra prime real estate.
Eddie February 23, 2014 at 08:10 PM
Hi Moe - it's me again. Kiss my ass you fat loser.

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