NEWS: Following up; RKO Keith’s Project Floundering In Flushing

From the Queens Chronicle:

by Liz Rhoades , Managing Editor

The impressive plans for the RKO Plaza project in downtown Flushing may never get off the ground, according to a local land use official.
Community Board 7’s Land Use Committee met last Thursday to discuss updated plans by Brooklyn developer Shaya Boymelgreen. Not only was the proposal rejected, but the committee chairman, Chuck Apelian, now believes the owner wants to sell the property.
“In my gut, I don’t think they (Boymelgreen) are going to build this site,” Apelian said. “The original plans have been approved for the site, but maybe they’ll wait two years until the real estate market softens and sell it.”
Last December, the Board of Standards and Appeals approved a mixed use proposal for the derelict RKO Keith’s Theatre, located at 129 43 Northern Blvd. The approval occurred after three years of negotiations and compromise between the developer and the community
Plans call for the building to have 18 stories with retail space on the ground floor and mezzanine level, restoration of the landmarked theatre lobby, 200 condominium apartments, parking for 233 cars and a dramatic glass curtain wall on the boulevard facade. Part of the community’s input was the addition of a senior center.
Now, the developers are asking for 25 percent of the space to be used for “home occupation.” This would allow a business person—such as a lawyer or architect—to live and work there, utilizing one outside employee.
According to Apelian, the Land Use Committee voted unanimously last week against the proposal. The rejected proposal called for apartments that would be turned into large lofts on the third through ninth floors. They could run as large as 2,500 square feet and sell for well over $1 million.
“The developer said the original plans did not have enough windows and by making the apartments bigger, that would take care of the problem,” Apelian said. He fears residents would abuse the loft space.

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