Tag Archives: Whitestone Jewels

New owner of massive vacant Whitestone site pledges to stick to zoning with development plans

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

The new owner of a contentious massive development site in Whitestone is going to give the community what it wants: single-family detached homes.

Tim O’Sullivan paid $13.6 million at an auction on April 10 for the 6-acre site near at 150th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, which is zoned for smaller residential properties, and hopes to build two-story, single-family detached homes on the land. The property was previously known as the Cresthaven Country Club and was used for years by the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) as a summer day camp.

Residents and community leaders were planning to fight any development on the property that didn’t meet zoning, such as high-rises or other large properties, hoping to protect the character of the residential neighborhood.

O’Sullivan, who grew up in Whitestone, said he understands what the residents are feeling and wants to be on their side.

“We are looking forward to working with the community, state Sen. Tony Avella and our architect, Frank Petruso, to produce a development befitting this beautiful Whitestone neighborhood,” O’Sullivan said. “I grew up in Whitestone and I am happy to contribute to the neighborhood in a positive way.”

The site was part of the former Cresthaven Country Club and then was owned by real estate firm Whitestone Jewels LLC, but has been in foreclosure since 2007 after the firm defaulted on its mortgage.

Whitestone Jewels LLC purchased the site in 2006 for $23.3 million from the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn, according to city records.

As the April 10 auction date was approaching, Avella and residents began to warn potential buyers about overdevelopment, and the new civic group We Love Whitestone was hoping to convince the city to purchase the property and transform it into parkland.

“Whitestone is a residential area dominated by one-family homes,” Avella said. “This lot sits immediately across from homeowners who do not want their community to be overtaken by large buildings that tower over their houses. I am happy to support a project that will preserve the look and feel of the surrounding community.”



Abandoned Whitestone lot forces curfew on family

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Courier

It’s house arrest come sunset for one family in Whitestone who say they’re being held hostage by a hotbed of mosquitoes and wild animals thriving in an abandoned six-acre lot next door.

“We’re limited to the time we can use our yard — cooking out or going into the pool. Once it starts to get dark — that’s it,” said Artie McCrossen, 59. “The summer’s so short already. It’s a shame.”

McCrossen, a retired firefighter, said the large and undeveloped property — which surrounds his 6th Avenue home on three sides — has been neglected for more than a year. The unkempt yard, he said, has been overgrown with weeds as high as four feet and has become an ideal home for swarms of mosquitoes, raccoons and possums.

“Last Monday, I had four raccoons on my front porch,” McCrossen said. “It was only eight o’clock at night.”

And shorter days mean a fleeting summer for his son, 12-year-old Patrick McCrossen, who said he loves swimming in the backyard pool but has to get out when the sun starts to set.

“I’m getting bitten all over. It’s hard,” he said. “It’s not fun [to have to go inside earlier]. It’s boring.”

McCrossen, who has lived in his home near the East River for six decades, said he also battles with poison ivy and other foliage that seeps into his garden through the fence that divides the properties. The lot used to be maintained and the grass cut, but that service came to a halt sometime last year, he said.

Kathy Dawkins, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Sanitation, said the agency cleans around the perimeter “as personnel and equipment are available” but cannot enter the private property.

The removal of weeds and wildlife falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health, which found the site overrun with weeds during a July 31 inspection, an agency spokesperson said. Violations were not issued, but the department sent a warning letter to Whitestone Jewels, which purchased the five connected lots in September 2006 for $23.3 million, city agencies said.

According to Department of Building records, a permit was issued to the same company in October 2007 to build a two-story, one-family home, but that expired in March 2008 and was never renewed. The land may now be in foreclosure, according to a Department of Finance spokesperson, although it has not yet been auctioned and bankruptcy could not be verified.

Whitestone Jewels could not be reached for comment.