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City Planning OKs CI Estates

On Wednesday, September 9, the City Planning Commission (CPC) endorsed City Island Estates, the 5.4-acre condominium development planned for Fordham Place and Fordham Street. Up next: the City Council.

The CPC okayed a rezone of the property, formerly owned by International Underwater Contractors, and agreed to grant New Jersey businessman Tony Errico a special height permit. Errico wants to build 22 houses, 43 residential units; although there is a height limit of 35 feet on City Island, he wants to do 17 houses at 41½ feet.

“We’re pleased,” City Island Estates lawyer Melanie Meyers said.

In June, Community Board 10 recommended that the CPC okay the rezone but not the special height permit. Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. recommended that the CPC okay both the rezone and the special height permit.

The CPC held a public hearing in August. CB10 district manager Ken Kearns and CB10 member Virginia Gallagher traveled to City Hall to testify. Some think that 41 ½ foot houses at City Island Estates would set a bad precedent on City Island, Gallagher told the CPC.

Meyers also testified in front of the CPC. Errico has listened to City Island residents, Meyers said. He increased the number of planned City Island Estates parking spots from 72 to the maximum number, 86. He eliminated three Fordham Place curb cuts from the plan to protect on-street parking. And he agreed to build the houses in lines to maintain water views for existing residents.

The property slopes down to the water from Fordham Place, Meyers said. Errico plans to build 35-foot houses on Fordham Place, and 41½-foot houses on the slope. The 41½-foot houses won’t appear taller, she said.

Errico has also agreed to a 43-unit cap on the property, a CB10 suggestion, on the condition that his plan is approved. For these reasons, and because the property is underutilized, the CPC told Errico “yes.”

The City Island Estates plan is “consistent with recent development over the last several years to redevelop manufacturing and marine related sites to residential,” a CPC report read. Errico will build a small public waterfront promenade adjacent to the houses.

City Island Civic Association member Barbara Dolensek considers City Island Estates an “attractive plan.” But Dolensek and neighbors are concerned about the economic feasibility of City Island Estates and its potential impact on City Island infrastructure.

Errico has promised to build only three houses at a time to avoid vacancies and expects the market to pick up soon. But he plans to sell the units for $750,000 to $1 million. The 43 units will add traffic to City Island, Fordham Street in particular, Dolensek said.

The City Council will issue a recommendation on City Island Estates soon. Councilman James Vacca plans to review the recommendations, he said. Unless City Island neighbors hold a substantial protest, the City Council will endorse Errico, Dolensek said.

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