Construction of a new laundromat and strip-mall in Pelham Bay is stalled due to a NYC Department of Buildings audit.
The DOB issued a stop work order recently on a new 150-machine laundromat and two additional stores being constructed at 3113 Westchester Avenue.
According to builder Mike Nisthalal, the one-story building will offer just over 6,000 square feet of retail space and four parking spaces.
It will be a modern building in keeping with others along the Westchester Avenue block, said the developer.
The building will be set back from the street on a 8,660-square foot parcel.
Each of the additional retail stores will be approximately 1,000 square feet.
The community can expect a state-of the-art laundromat, along the lines of ones he has built in every borough except Manhattan over a 25-year career, he said.
The DOB audited its own approved plans after Councilman James Vacca, who periodically reviews new construction applications in his district, noticed certain features of the project that raised red flags, including possible technical issues with basement egress, handicap accessibility, curb cuts and parking.
The DOB ordered that some changes be made, according to the developer.
Nisthalal said he set the front of the building back further from the sidewalk to comply with the audit.
Because the project was DOB certified and construction permits were pulled on Wednesday, December 14, the builder feels he has been unfairly singled out.
“I am bringing business to his district; I am bringing employment to his district; I am bringing money to his district,” said the developer, expressing frustration over Vacca’s involvement, adding “(The development) enhances the value of everyone’s property; there is more convenience, more work for people.”
Vacca said he is not going to stop looking into construction projects he feels may be questionable.
The councilman believes that either the project complies with the zoning, or it does not.
The real reason for Vacca’s objections to this project may be found in his objections to large-scale laundromats, period.
He also fought the opening of a laundromat on East Tremont Avenue in Throggs Neck to no avail.
He believes the new laundromat will create traffic and parking problems.
“He proposed four parking spaces, so where will people park?” said Vacca. “They would either double park or park on side streets in the community.”
The councilman would like to see the owner consult with the community while explaining his thoughts and being sensitive to the parking concerns in Pelham Bay.
The zoning only requires four on-site parking spaces.
Michelle Torrioni, Pelham Bay Taxpayer Association president, said that if the developer could create more off-street parking, she believes it would be more attractive to potential customers since it is often difficult to find parking along Westchester Avenue.
Residential neighbors of the project seemed mildly inconvenienced.
One renter of an apartment on Edison Avenue which backs up against the project, Maritza Rodriguez, lamented that she had lost use of her backyard because the construction work fence was temporarily located on the property.
The retail center is being built on the rear property line, necessitating the safety fence.