It’s been almost a year since the Pathmark store at 227 Cherry St. closed to make way for a massive new residential tower from Gary Barnett’s Extell Development Company. Extell has not disclosed specific plans for the site, but pre-construction work is apparently getting underway sometime soon.
Fencing went up around the parcel, just north of the Manhattan Bridge, this past May. Barnett, one of Manhattan’s most prolific and powerful real estate developers, purchased the development site for $150 million. In the past several days, elected officials as well as tenant leaders and the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council have been told that “asbestos abatement” will begin in the near future, followed by building demolition.
There’s no evidence of any recent activity in the Buildings Department database, but Extell’s contractor has been setting the stage for the asbestos and building demo work. Trever Holland, the tenant association president of Two Bridges Tower (the rental building adjacent to the Pathmark site), sent an email to residents last night indicating that Extell reps were signaling the start of demolition in “the next few weeks.” Two Bridges, the non-profit sponsor of the former urban renewal area, has received similar information. Two Bridges President Victor Papa spoke directly with Extell and received confirmation. He said no timetable was specified. Papa noted that there has been absolutely no concrete information from Extell about plans for the new building; an official notice will be going out today to residents at Two Bridges Tower, as well as an adjacent senior housing building. Extell has not responded to The Lo-Down’s requests for information.
“I would urge Extell,” Papa said, “to bear in mind the need to communicate with the community and with Two Bridges,” which owns the neighboring residential building along with the Settlement Housing Fund. He also called on Extell to share its plans for a new supermarket as part of its project. While the company has committed to including a grocery in the building, it has not indicated whether it will be an affordable market geared for the low and middle income residents in the neighborhood or a high-end grocery such as Whole Foods.
Two Bridges and Settlement Housing Fund own a one-story building at 235 Cherry St., the former home of Pathmark’s pharmacy. They have always planned to build affordable housing on the site. Today, Papa said they are “moving closer” to a development plan for at least 70 apartments and expect to have something to announce by the end of this year.
Under current zoning, the main Pathmark site could accommodate a building of nearly one-million square feet. Previous development schemes have envisioned a tower rising at least 55 stories, but it’s possible the building could be even taller.