Edc Reviewing Plans For Development Of Stapleton Homeport

Diane J. Savino

March 18, 2008

The city's Economic Development Corporation is currently reviewing plans for development of the Stapleton Homeport, but one local lawmaker says the project hasn't attracted much interest from builders. NY1's Mara Montalbano filed the following report.

Nearly 40 acres of undeveloped waterfront property in New York City sounds like a builder's dream. However, State Senator Diane Savino says her conversations with the NYEDC tell her developers aren't jumping at the chance to get involved in the Stapleton Homeport project.

"If you speak to developers, they will tell you it's too small," said Savino. "Three hundred and fifty units of housing are not sufficient to want the commitment of their entire operation somewhere, when there's a real problem about profitability for them."

Right now, the city plan includes a mix of residential, commercial and recreational development. The NYEDC would not comment on how many bids were received for the project.

Some say more housing on the site is needed in order to bring residents and money to the neighborhood.

"The situation in Stapleton right now is a lot of low-income housing," said Kamillah Hanks, executive director of the Downtown Staten Island Council. "We want to dilute that by having work-force housing and first-response housing at the Homeport that can help us reach the critical mass and then the commercial and the retail they will come."

However, the task force convened to oversee the project says the current plan is a viable one and dedicating the whole site to housing would create problems.

"The infrastructure is just not there," said Sean Sweeney. "You don't have schools in the area that can accommodate a thousand new families. You don't have parking for a thousand residential units."

Local business owners are happy the development will bring new residents to the neighborhood, but are also split on the question of commercial space at the site.

"Not everybody wants to walk this far up to Bay Street to go to the local store," said James Holman, who owns Famous Fish Soul Food. "They should have commercial and residence down there. That would be a better idea."

"I think it's a better idea for just housing, because there are a lot of businesses right now," said John Kysovrasti, owner of Bari's Pizza, "Everyday they're opening another one."

There is no date as to when development may begin. The city has already contributed $66 million to the project.