Lightstone Group may sell Whitestone Cinema site

There may be other development options for the property that was once the Whitestone Cinema.
Community News Group / Photo by Patrick Rocchio

It looks like something is coming to the Whitestone Cinema site, but probably not a Paragon Outlets mall.

The owner of the shuttered multiplex movie theater site at the Bruckner Interchange, Lightstone Group, is offering the large parcel for sale, a spokesman confirmed.

“We recently received several attractive unsolicited offers for the property which prompted us to evaluate the feasibility of selling the property rather than developing,” read a statement from Lightstone. “We are in the early stages of discussion with several purchasers.”

If this happens, it does not appear that Paragon Outlets would operate there, as had previously been planned.

Paragon is a subsidiary of Lightstone, the spokesman, Chris Bastardi, confirmed.

According to a source with knowledge about the situation, another outlet mall may come to the location anyway as Lightstone frequently packages deals like this for others to purchase.

No decision has been made, according to Lightstone, which remained upbeat about the Bronx’s economic potential.

“Investing in the Bronx has always been a priority for Lightstone and we are grateful for the support of local officials and organizations who share our vision for bringing more economic development to the borough,” read the statement.

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said at a meeting of the City Island Civic Association on Tuesday, March 24, in response to a question raised by the organization’s corresponding secretary John Doyle, that it did not look like that Paragon would happen.

In the local community, speculation and ideas flourished as news spread that the site may not become an outlet mall, or at least not as originally planned.

Mary Jane Musano of the Waterbury LaSalle Community Association said that concerns about increased traffic at the Bruckner Interchange would be temporarily alleviated.

She would like to see a large comprehensive school at the site, but believes that realistically, the community will get more shopping.

Bob Bieder, the president of the 45th Precinct Community Council, said the location next to the site, the Bruckner Interchange, is the location of the most number of accidents in the precinct.

“It is a good news-bad news scenario,” he said, adding “We would love to have the jobs and economic development in the community…but the good news side is that we are not going to have to have the kind of traffic we were concerned about and small businesses in the area will not have increased competition.”

Bieder said that he thought that city marshals would continue to use the site as a towing pound, and that it was possible that school bus companies could lease the site, with its massive parking lot, until it is developed.

Local community activist Frank Vernuccio envisions shopping of some kind coming to the site.

He said that compared to Woodbury Commons Outlet Mall in Orange County, the site, while large for the borough, is much smaller.

Vernuccio, a conservative radio host, had one particular retailer in mind for the location.

“I think all residents want to see that space filled,” he said, adding “I know everyone is going to hate me for saying this, but I think a Wal-Mart would be a fantastic use for that site.”

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

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