BFC Partners, the developer of Empire Outlets, is getting ready to close on a $4 million purchase of Bay Street property, which is currently being used as a parking lot, to build a mix of market rate and affordable housing.
The 53,922-square-foot land parcel at 475 Bay St. is currently being used as temporary parking — providing 293 parking spaces with the utilization of stackers — for Staten Island Ferry commuters, while the parking garage is being built at Empire Outlets.
BFC Partners has been leasing the lot “with the option to buy,” and hopes to close on the transaction next month, said Joseph Ferrara, principal of BFC Partners.
“We are hoping to move the commuters back into the Empire parking lot in the second quarter of next year,” he said.
RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT ‘MAKES SENSE’
BFC Partners plans to construct an eight-story building with 214 residential units — ranging in size from studios to three-bedroom apartments — and 12,500 square feet of first-floor retail, he said.
“It makes sense for this site to be residential. Any company coming in to put in manufacturing would have to elevate any industrial equipment way above the flood plain and put it on the second floor due to new flood zones,” said Ferrara.
At least 20 percent of the complex — “maybe more” — will be set aside as affordable housing, he said.
“We fully stand behind the de Blasio administration’s affordable housing initiative as a company. …Let’s not kid ourselves, we need affordable housing in New York, including Staten Island,” said Ferrara, noting BFC Partners developed The Rail on Bay and Prospect Streets six years ago.
“There are many different levels of affordability. A family of four with a firefighter and a nurse can still qualify for an affordable unit in New York City. That’s the target audience. …People shouldn’t be afraid of affordable housing.”
ZONE CHANGE REQUIRED
The City Planning Department’s project to reshape a 45-acre area that includes the “Bay Street Corridor” would add as many as 2,569 apartments and nearly 600,000 square feet of commercial space to Staten Island’s housing and commercial real estate stock, according to a draft scope of the work from the city.
The Bay Street project lies within the corridor — zoned as a manufacturing district since 1961 — outlined by City Planning.
Under the city’s proposal, the Bay Street Corridor would be rezoned for taller and larger residential buildings.
“This project all hinges on the (City Planning Department) rezoning,” said Ferrara.
The architect for the project is Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects in Manhattan.
BFC Partners’ St. George project, Empire Outlets, will be comprised of 100 designer outlet retailers; a 190-room hotel featuring a rooftop venue with expansive waterfront views; a 1,250-space structured parking garage, and a 40,000-square-foot food and beverage deck that will provide panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline. The project will be adjacent to the New York Wheel, which will be one of the tallest observation wheels in the Western hemisphere.