loehmanns

ONLY ON SHEEPSHEAD BITES: The owners of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza (2027 Emmons Avenue) have submitted plans to the Department of Building to construct a new extension to the controversial building, leaving those who fought its initial construction nearly 20 years ago in a state of shock.

The proposed extension would add a new story of commercial offices, totaling 10,000 square feet. The plans are in violation of zoning and the property’s current variance, and will soon be considered by Community Board 15 and the Board of Standards and Appeals.

One of the property’s owners, Alex Levin, confirmed the expansion.

“We’re looking to expand office space,” he said. “We’re going to bring the elevator up to [a new third] floor. We have our reasons.”

The project’s architect, Robert Palermo, declined to discuss the plans.

“It’s privileged information. When it comes before the board, it’ll be public,” he said.

There is no date set yet for a public hearing at Community Board 15, the first step to obtaining any variance. Chairperson Theresa Scavo said she had not yet been notified by the Board of Standards Appeals.

As a resident, though, she was shocked to learn of the plan.

“Speaking personally, it was against the special Sheepshead zoning district to begin with, and to add a floor is a slap in the face to the people of Sheepshead Bay,” she said. “I cannot believe that adding another floor is going to give the Bay a better look with that monstrosity there.”

The building sits within the Sheepshead Bay special zoning district, which limits the size and use of structures along the Emmons Avenue waterfront. The area is limited to waterfront and tourist-related activities, and special density and height limits govern development.

Many longtime Sheepshead Bay activists credit the development of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza in the 1990s as the death of the special district, having won a variance that, according to those who fought it, resulted in it being 800 percent larger than legal limits. The exception was won due to the promise of the retail giant Loehmann’s as an anchor tenant, justifying jobs and commercial draw in exchange for its waiver.

Loehmann’s went bankrupt and vacated the property last month.

Bay Improvement Group Steve Barrison, one of the development’s most vocal opponents, said the new application is history repeating itself.

“It’s the same thing all over again. The use exceeds the zoning by 800 percent. It was granted specifically for Loehmann’s and Loehmann’s went out. So that’s it. Unbelievable,” he said. “We’re talking about a special district. We’re talking about the waterfront. We’re not talking about any where else in the community. It’s disgusting.”

Barrison added that there’s little legal justification to allow the variance simply for office space. According to the law, a developer must show that they suffer from certain hardships, as found in section 72-21 of New York’s Zoning Resolution.

“It’s insensitive to the whole community after Sandy,” said Barrison. “All of the people who haven’t moved in or are still rebuilding and trying to get their lives together. Now [this developer] wants to go and build and increase zoning some more when people can’t speak up.”

If Bay Improvement Group decides to fight the variance, they’ll be fighting a different developer than they did in the 1990s. The building was sold to Levin in 2008 for $24 million, a local real estate record at the time.

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  • BayResident

    I don’t understand, there are still units on the ground floor of the plaza which have been sitting vacant since Sandy. And now Lohemann’s is gone. Do they have a client ready to move in who needs the extra space? If not, why build it? I won’t be against it if the building wasn’t so ugly to begin with. It’s an eyesore when looking at the “skyline” of the bay from the Manhattan Beach side. Maybe some fresh paint and better colors would do them better then an additional floor.

  • Eugene Bondar

    Do you know who is the attorney/firm representing Loehmann’s in this matter?

    • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

      We haven’t figured that out yet, but we will.

      • Eugene Bondar

        Please keep posted. Thanks.

  • joe

    Just don’t touch the Seaport Buffett!!

    • http://www.mybrooklyn.com/ MyBrooklyn

      LOL

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  • MrArtTuro

    Thanks for the Bites only reporting. Keep up the good work!

  • money talks.

    Its about the money. 10,000 square feet of more rent revenue.
    In conclusion, it will increase the value of the building by, at least, $6,000,000 … Yes, at least, $6,000,000 in todays market.
    And today’s $6,000,000 may be worth $7,000,000 in a few years.
    If they care about the community so much, tell them to increase the parking lot by 10,000 square feet.

  • Ishtar Kabibble

    I agree Loehmann’s Plaza is an underused eyesore and should not be expanded. But I disagree that the character of the waterfront should be forever unchanged. Like it or not, accept it or not, the “quaint fishing village” is long behind us. You can have empty storefronts and a handful of under-utilized fishing vessels; or you can have something else that uses the amazing location for something appropriate and “new.” Just what that “new something” might be I don’t know. Regarding the BIG: I regard them as a toothless tiger that produces the yawn-inducing Bayfest, one underpass clean-up area, and does little else in the community other than gripe about the past without any real momentum or activism towards the future of the neighborhood… which,at this point, is more important..

    • Mat50

      why am I thinking of Greenport on LI?

  • nolastname

    Blow it up….problem solved. The bay has been shot down already..People are right it will never be the great place it was…it’s not home it’s for tourists. What is left will only make $$ in season and that won’t bail them out. Starting with Cherry Hill (who was first to lie to get what they wanted…destroyed the building),the place sucks except for the little of the fishing fleet and water fowl that remain…and if officials have their way they are dead too….

    • BayResident

      I agree with you for the most part but, as someone who lives on Emmons, I happen to find Cherry Hill quite convenient and a pretty great store.

      That said, there’s no reason it couldn’t have been opened somewhere other than the Lundys building. So my question is, what would you have preferred to see in the Lundys building? Its a very large space and I would argue that a restaurant that large, and in that location, wouldn’t survive because, like you said, they’d only make money in season. So what are the other options?

      • nolastname

        Hey Bay, I really don’t care what goes there. My point with Cherry Hill is they lied. It could be a shit farm…..just do not destroy the building…but that’s too late now isn’t it.

        • BayResident

          That makes sense. I hope you don’t take offense at my ignorance, but I’m curious what it is that they destroyed? I know some things like the front tiles were broken and removed, but in general it’s always seemed to me to have retained the spirit of the original building. What is it that I’m missing that I should be angry about? :)

          • nolastname

            Have you noticed the stained glass windows? There is no effort made to preserve anything….the theme seems to be let it fall apart so we can have our way with it. it is like the property owner wants it to become an eyesore…which it practically is. The sineage does nothing for the atmosphere it had. I would have to take a trip back to give you more examples. PS Cherry Hill does offer a good variety of fresh and cooked foods….The prices however are not for the average income for goods that can be found elsewhere for less.

    • joe

      its still my home, so dont bash it too much. If you don’t like it nobody is forcing you to stay. You can go move to NJ with the other people who abandoned the neighborhood they grew up in

      • nolastname

        Not too much. I live here more than 50 years..still do. I know it has hit the skids. Much of my family did high tail it , and looong ago, but I have responsibilities to family that does keep me here or I would be gone so fast your head would spin from where you stand. It’s a pig sty. So far from any warmth I remember over the earlier years. They way the area is now I would NEVER choose it as a new home. The greedy folk can have it.

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