Some local residents are opposing a proposed medical building in Morris Park.
Community Board 11 recently voted to send a letter of objection to the Bureau of Standards and Appeals regarding a special permit application for 1604 Williamsbridge Road.
The builder, Sal Maurice of Maurice Realty, presented his plan for a 4,700 square foot, 3-story medical building at the corner of Pierce Avenue to the board’s Land Use Committee in December.
The committee, and later the full board, opposed the plan for the residential-zoned lot because of lack of parking and concerns about congestion in the neighborhood, among other things.
The property is the site of the former historic Arnow Mansion, which was torn down in 2005 right before the down-zoning in the neighborhood took effect. As the developer raced against the clock to start building on the property, a stop-work order was put in place.
Although proposals for a medical building on the corner lot have come up before, the property has remained vacant.
The lot was recently sold to Maurice from Joseph Quintessenza, who also attended the presentation to the Land Use Committee.
Part of the reason the community board opposed the project is because the new owner knew the lot was zoned for residential development when he purchased it, said Land Use Committee chair Joe McManus.
“And now they’re asking for ‘relief’ because they can’t make money on it,” said McManus.
But the big concern about the proposal was the lack of parking. The building would have only two parking spots on site, and parking in the neighborhood is already extremely difficult.
“It was parking, parking, parking,” McManus said about the committees response to the proposal.
They were also concerned about adding to traffic congestion in the area, where there are already numerous medical facilities and hospitals.
Additionally, in front of the building is a bus stop, which would make it difficult for ambulettes or Access-a-Ride to drop off at the location, said McManus.
The builder doesn’t see parking as an issue, said Maurice’s partner, Vivian Locascio of Locascio Realty.
She said two family homes also add cars to the neighborhood, and she expects many employees will take public transportation. In that way, the bus stop in front of the building is a plus.
“People today take buses,” said Locascio.
Concerns were also raised about the building’s future tenants, said McManus.
“Once it becomes a commercial building, they could do anything,” he said. “We rezoned that to be residential.”
But Maurice only has plans for a traditional nine to five medical building, said Locascio.
“Were not going to put drug rehabilitation or a methadone center there,” she said.
The community board is there to protect the neighborhood, said McManus, and the developer does not want to offer concessions—such as parking – that would make the plan more palatable for the community.
Locascio said the developer is in fact trying to better the community, and that he plans to live next door to monitor the property.