Silverstein Properties in contract to buy six parcels in Astoria

Larry Silverstein's Silverstein Properties controls 13 parcels in Astoria through lease or contract

Developer now controls 13 parcels on three adjacent blocks, where litigation is ongoing

By Adam Pincus

Silverstein Properties has inked purchase contracts to buy six parcels on three blocks in the southwestern portion of Astoria near the intersection of Steinway Street and 35th Avenue, in a commercial and industrial area filled with car and motorcycle sales and industrial supply companies.

The half-dozen properties Larry Silverstein’s firm has signed deals with are in addition to seven properties he already controls through a long-term ground lease with Queensboro Farm Products, which was signed in May of last year.

Silverstein signed the contracts for the parcels in December and February, but the documents were recorded in January and February. None of the contracts has a purchase price or closing date.

Silverstein signed one deal with plumbing supply distributor Mayer Malbin for 35-42 41st Street, 35-33 41st Street and 35-45 41st Street. That company purchased a Woodside location in December for nearly $23 million.

The next deal was inked with Yaron Jacobi’s Premier Equities, to purchase 42-11 Northern Boulevard. Premier purchased the parcel, now occupied by Subaru and Harley Davidson showrooms, in July 2014 for $8.75 million, city records show.

Silverstein signed the third set of contracts with Alfess Realty, care of Joseph Klyde, for the adjacent buildings 35-10 43rd Street and 35-18 43rd Street, now occupied by supplier Home Art Tile Kitchen & Bath.

The aggressive push into an industrial corner of Astoria illustrates the bets large builders are willing to take to land sites for development. It also may put pressure on the city to rezone the blocks in order to allow for residential development, as another developer, Henry Wollman, has sought.

With the new properties, Silverstein now controls nearly two entire blocks in the neighborhood and portions of a third block, with a total of 182,890 square feet of surface area. The hitch is that all but one of the 13 properties have a very restrictive M1-1 zoning, which only allows for low-rise commercial uses and a floor area ratio of 2.4.

It is unclear what Silverstein proposes to do with any of the sites, but developer Wollman’s plans with his Quadriand Realty Partners may offer a guide. He has been working for years to redevelop these and adjacent blocks by rezoning the land to allow for a floor area ratio of 7.2 and bring in approximately 4,000 units of housing.

A spokesperson for the city’s Department of City Planning said there were no applications submitted to rezone the parcels. Silverstein did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wollman and Robert Gans are battling Silverstein and others in a complex lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Wollman has accused Silverstein and others of hijacking his years-long effort to redevelop these blocks and others, which has had dubbed Steinway Square.

The parcels now in contract are not under dispute in the lawsuit, but the Queensboro parcels are, according to court filings.