$41 million sale of old Whitestone Cinema property

The site at the Bruckner Boulevard Interchange that was once the Whitestone Cinema and was slated to become an outlet mall has now been acquired by a housing developer.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

A large, desirable parcel of vacant east Bronx land, that’s ripe for development, has been resold.

The former site of the multiplex Whitestone Cinema at the Bruckner Interchange, originally slated to become a Paragon Outlet, was recently unloaded for $41 million to Extell Development Company.

Extell develops residential and commercial properties, including high-rise Manhattan condominiums.

The deal for the site in Throggs Neck, completed recently, marks the second time in three years that the property has been sold.

The Lightstone Group purchased it for $30 million in 2012, from Sumner Redstone.

A well-placed source who said he has spoken to a key person in Extell told the Bronx Times that while plans for the location remain mum except for a general leaning toward commercial development, given the developer’s history, it does not appear that the community should be concerned.

“I cannot image this is going to be something that is not desirable,” the source said, adding that Extell is one of the hot high-end developers in NYC right now.

The source speculated that the outlet mall plan may have been scuttled because many of the designer brands needed to fill the retail space were restricted from opening another outlet within a certain radius of Woodbury Commons and similar malls nearby.

Senator Jeff Klein said he has been following the situation and that he is going to continue to monitor it.

Extell was founded in 1989 by Gary Barnett, and is well known for building both high-rise luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan, as well as hotels and office buildings.

Among the buildings the company has constructed, according to published reports and other sources, are One 57, a 94-unit luxury condominium/mixed-use building a short walk from Central Park South on West 57th Street; The International Gem Tower, an 34-story office building in Midtown Manhattan and the Hyatt Times Square hotel.

Klein added that he had recently met with the East Bronx Traffic Coalition, a consortium of civic groups who have been studying issues of development along the Hutchinson River Parkway and I-95 corridors.

The 19-acre sale was discussed, according to attendees.

“We meet with Senator Klein and there seems to be a willingness on his part to take the community’s ideas to the developer,” said John Doyle, EBTC member.

The developer is known for high-rise buildings and the scale of the project may cause concern, he said.

“Personally, you have got to take a wait and see approach because you cannot judge a plan that is not in front of you,” he said.

A wait and see approach seemed evident among other community leaders as well.

Marcia Pavlica, an EBTC member, said that people on the committee were very surprised that a high-end developer was interested in site.

“No matter how great the apartments were or grandiose the (plan), it would just seem like the wrong location,” she said, adding that she is also aware that many new larger buildings are mixed use, with commercial on the street level.

Dotti Poggi, leader of the Ferry Point Community Advocates, speculated that the developer purchased the property simply to obtain a 19-acre site at a good price.

Generally speaking, Poggi said she would like to see housing in the borough built for people who work and can support the local economy.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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