2003-09-24 / Front Page

Stern’s Warehouse Plans Aired At UCCA

Stern’s Warehouse Plans Aired At UCCA


Joseph Pistilli, owner  of the former Stern’s warehouse on Ditmars Boulevard between 45th and 46th Streets, outlines his plans for converting the building to condominium residences at the September 18 meeting of the United Community Civic Association as (l.) Gail Mellow, LaGuardia Community College president, and UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo (r.) look on.  Photo Rose Albergo .Joseph Pistilli, owner of the former Stern’s warehouse on Ditmars Boulevard between 45th and 46th Streets, outlines his plans for converting the building to condominium residences at the September 18 meeting of the United Community Civic Association as (l.) Gail Mellow, LaGuardia Community College president, and UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo (r.) look on. Photo Rose Albergo .

munity Civic Association (UCCA) meeting last Thursday night to hear plans for two local institutions and voice their concerns over developments in their neighborhood." They stayed to the bitter end, too," UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo said. "These people really care about what’s going on around them."

A major concern for area residents is the former Stern’s warehouse on Ditmars Boulevard between45th and 46th Streets. The crumbling structure, built in the early 20th century by Steinway and Sons as a storage facility for wood used to build pianos, passed through the hands of several owners and at various times was slated to become a Pathmark supermarket, an assisted living facility or an apartment complex in which 20 percent of the units were mandated to be rented t families with incomes below certain thresholds. The building is now owned by Joseph Pistilli, a local real estate developer, who plans to convert the building into 200 condominium units ranging in size from one to three bedrooms. All units will be sold at market prices.

Pistilli told the Gazette that in addition to the condominium units, 8,000 square feet of the building will be occupied by commercial and retail store space and another 15,000 square feet of space will be rented as professional and medical offices. An underground garage will have spaces for 260 vehicles.

Work on the building proceeds at a steady pace. "So far, we’ve been putting in framing as far as the third floor," Pistilli said. "At the same time, we’re excavating the garage. Electricity and plumbing is being put in, although there’s no sheetrock up yet." Pistillii said he expects the building to be completed and ready for occupancy within the next 12 to 14 months.


As has been the case on previous occasions, representatives of another community group raised objections to the plans for the building. Rodolfo Sarchese, president of the Astoria Ditmars Homeowners and Tenants Association repeatedly questioned Pistilli’s use of the word "intend" in describing his plans for the property. "As far as we know, and according to our lawyer, we have a restriction that says the property will be used for senior housing only," Sarchese said. "If Pistilli intends to develop that property for condominiums, he hasn’t stated his intentions in a year and a half. We don’t know who’s the architect for the building or the contractor, and as far as we know the only permit he has that’s still in effect allows outside excavations. The community doesn’t know anything about what he’s doing there. If he makes the property a rental building, that’s not acceptable to he association or the community."

"I don’t think Sarchese sees the building as the eyesore it presently is—one that we’re eliminating from the landscape," Pistilli said. "That fight was over years ago." He obtained the variances necessary to convert the building, which is zoned as a manufacturing property, to a residential structure, and has proceeded to work on the building in conformance with all pertinent codes and regulations. "At the end of the day, I do have a mission to make this a building that will be a credit to the community as well as be profitable for me," Pistilli said. "I put my own money into it, so I don’t need financing from the city or state. I can find the most desirable owners for the condominium units-or tenants if I make it a rental. It got to be a one-on-one discussion at the meeting, and I tried to make it as clear as I possibly could that I’m building a condominium there."

Another community concern rousing area residents’ ire was the New York Power Authority application for expansion of a gas turbine plant at 42-30 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City. "How dare [NYPA] assume they can just roll over our bodies?" Poveromo demanded. "They’re poisoning our community. When are the state and the federal governments going to stand up for people. rather than corporate polluters?" The facility, which went on line in June 2001, consists of two mini generators, which generate 79.9 megawatts of electricity, just under the 80-MW threshold at which a full environmental review would have had to be held. Subsequently, NYPA announced that the facility would shot down by the end of October 2004, if by that time either a 500-MW plant at the site of the Poletti facility in Astoria or a 1,000-MW Astoria Energy facility being constructed by SCS Energy were to come on line. As of the date of the UCCA meeting, neither plant was expected to meet the October 2004 deadline.

Also present at the meeting were Assemblymember Michael Gianaris and state Senator George Onorato, who noted that they had submitted testimony to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) at hearings the night before the UCCA meeting. Gianaris, whose Energy Security Act was recently signed into law by Governor George Pataki, and who has sponsored several bills later enacted that call for more stringent standards for emissions and pollutants, said he told the DEC that NYPA has a "history of avoiding public accountability with respect to these turbines," one that" cannot be tolerated in Western Queens, which is home not only to the NYPA turbines in question [September 17], but to the larger NYPA Poletti plant in addition to a number of private power plants throughout the neighborhood."


Mount Sinai Hospital of QueensMount Sinai Hospital of Queens

Gianaris added that he had testified that his objections to the proposed turbine installation was based on the fact that there’s not sufficient information to determine the impact such an increase would have on air quality," which is already deteriorating, due to current pollution levels." He further testified, he said, "It would be unwise to grant an emissions increase to an organization that has repeatedly shown a disregard to environmental regulations. If these permits are granted, power companies would feel free to exceed permit requirements and ignore public concerns with very little consequence. Is this the message New York wants to send?"

Onorato recapped the written testimony he had submitted to the DEC prior to the date of the hearings. "The borough of Queens, and particularly Western Queens, is inundated with power plants," he had written. "By some estimates, energy facilities in Western Queens provide more than 60 percent of the electric power used by the entire city of New York. As a result, our borough holds the dubious distinction of being one of the most polluted communities in the entire nation."

In further testimony which Onorato recapitulated ed to the UCCA members gathered at Atonement Lutheran church, the senator pointed out," The most recent [federal] Environmental Protection Agency toxics release inventory—which was made public in July and which detailed power plant emissions in 2001—found that the air in Queens is getting dirtier. While the existing 825-MW Poletti plant did not report much of an increase in toxic emissions from 2000 to 2001, this facility—the worst polluter in the borough—still sent more than a quarter of a million pounds of toxic emissions into the air. KeySpan’s Ravenswood power station, the second worst polluter in Queens, had a 75 percent increase in toxic emissions over 2000, releasing 162,176 pounds in 2001. Orion Power’s Astoria generating station, the third worst polluter, posted nearly three times the amount of emissions in 2001 as the year before. Clearly, this must stop."

UCCA members also learned that while the quality of the air in Western Queens may leave much to be desired, health care as exemplified by the Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens continues to set new standards for excellence. Kathy Rubenstein and Caryn Schwab presented slides showing the improvements made to several areas of the hospital and outlined plans for continued modifications and upgrades.

The major challenges facing the hospital are its physical facilities and mixed reputation. Facilities are continually being upgraded, services are being expanded, and equipment purchased and quality improved. A new entrance and writing area have been added to the Emergency Department, for example, and patients are seen much more quickly with the institution of a new registration, triage and fast track treatment protocol. The department now boasts board certified Mount Sinai treatment faculty who provide state of the art training in emergency medicine and pediatric emergencies. A new non-invasive cardiology suite provides patients with stress testing, echocardiography, Holter monitoring and nuclear cardiology. The same area holds a new mammography suite and new CT scan equipment. New changing areas offer privacy and comfort.

On the hospital’s fifth floor, a new two-room endoscopy suite awaits patients undergoing this procedure. These patients share waiting areas, including new locker rooms for both men and women, with surgical services patients. Improvements in surgical services available include expertise in minimally invasive surgery, a surgical oncology service, and a full-time chief of anesthesiology and access to Mount Sinai anesthesia faculty, giving the surgical service the ability to undertake more complex procedures. The department also can care for more patients at any given time.

The hospital also has a substantial commitment to outpatient care. Its Family Health Associates division has specialists in internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and a full range of other specialties. Technology improvements throughout the hospital include new clinical information systems, a new telephone system and new computers at all nursing stations for instant access to patient information.

Improvements currently underway include lobby renovations to enhance the hospital’s image as well as its appearance. Waiting and reception space is designed to soothe and calm patients and visitors alike. A patient and community resource room and installation of an ATM are also part of the renovations, scheduled to be completed by December2003. By spring 2004, the main Emergency Department is expected to be completely renovated. A comprehensive cancer center is due to be established, as is a cardiac catherization laboratory. Long-term plans include a completely new hospital building; Schwab and Rubenstein acknowledged that this development will require partnership with the community.

The existing hospital continues to progress. It has been designated a Stroke Center, so patients suffering cerebrovascular accidents, or strokes, can have access to the most up-to-date and timely treatment. Patients have the benefit of the highly specialized services available at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Manhattan campus. Significantly, at a time when hospitals across the nation are facing shortages in their nursing staffs, the Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens has no vacancies on its nursing staff. Customer service excellence is ingrained in the Mount Sinai Queens culture, Rubenstein and Schwab added, and service standards are set for and expected to be maintained by every employee, from administration to front-line staff. Multi-day training sessions are frequently held and feedback from patients and visitors is welcomed." These e are major improvements," Poveromo said. "That’s getting to be one impressive hospital we have ere."

Also scheduled to speak was LaGuardia community College President Gail Mellow, who outlined the services and course offerings available at the college, one of the largest two-year institutions in the United States. "It’s a wonderful two-year college," Poveromo said.

Poveromo invited her audience to a dedication ceremony to be held at McManus Memorial Park October 2 at 7 p.m. A grove of trees has been planted to honor the memory of 75 employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as well as New York City police officers, firefighters and civilians who also perished.

Aired At UCCA

by linda j. wilson

Almost 200 concerned community residents braved an incipient hurricane to attend the United Community Civic Association (UCCA) meeting last Thursday night to hear plans for two local institutions and voice their concerns over developments in their neighborhood. "They stayed to the bitter end, too," UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo said. "These people really care about what’s going on around them."

A major concern for area residents is the former Stern’s warehouse on Ditmars Boulevard between 45th and 46th Streets. The crumbling structure, built in the early 20th century by Steinway and Sons as a storage facility for wood used to build pianos, passed through the hands of several owners and at various times was slated to become a Pathmark supermarket, an assisted living facility or an apartment complex in which 20 percent of the units were mandated to be rented to families with incomes below certain thresholds. The building is now owned by Joseph Pistilli, a local real estate developer, who plans to convert the building into 200 condominium units ranging in size from one to three bedrooms. All units will be sold at market prices.

Pistilli told the Gazette that in addition to the condominium units, 8,000 square feet of the building will be occupied by commercial and retail store space and another 15,000 square feet of space will be rented as professional and medical offices. An underground garage will have spaces for 260 vehicles.

Work on the building proceeds at a steady pace. "So far, we’ve been putting in framing as far as the third floor," Pistilli said. "At the same time, we’re excavating the garage. Electricity and plumbing is being put in, although there’s no sheetrock up yet." Pistilli said he expects the building to be completed and ready for occupancy within the next 12 to 14 months.

As has been the case on previous occasions, representatives of another community group raised objections to the plans for the building. Rodolfo Sarchese, president of the Astoria Ditmars Homeowners and Tenants Association, repeatedly questioned Pistilli’s use of the word "intend" in describing his plans for the property. "As far as we know, and according to our lawyer, we have a restriction that says the property will be used for senior housing only," Sarchese said. "If Pistilli intends to develop that property for condominiums, he hasn’t stated his intentions in a year and a half. We don’t know who’s the architect for the building or the contractor, and as far as we know the only permit he has that’s still in effect allows outside excavations. The community doesn’t know anything about what he’s doing there. If he makes the property a rental building, that’s not acceptable to the association or the community."

"I don’t think Sarchese sees the building as the eyesore it presently is—one that we’re eliminating from the landscape," Pistilli said. "That fight was over years ago." He obtained the variances necessary to convert the building, which is zoned as a manufacturing property, to a residential structure, and has proceeded to work on the building in conformance with all pertinent codes and regulations. "At the end of the day, I do have a mission to make this a building that will be a credit to the community as well as be profitable for me," Pistilli said. "I put my own money into it, so I don’t need financing from the city or state. I can find the most desirable owners for the condominium units-or tenants if I make it a rental. It got to be a one-on-one discussion at the meeting, and I tried to make it as clear as I possibly could that I’m building a condominium there."

UCCA members also learned that health care as exemplified by the Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens continues to set new standards for excellence. Kathy Rubenstein and Caryn Schwab presented slides showing the improvements made to several areas of the hospital and outlined plans for continued modifications and upgrades.

The major challenges facing the hospital are its physical facilities and mixed reputation. Facilities are continually being upgraded, services are being expanded, and equipment purchased and quality improved. A new entrance and waiting area have been added to the Emergency Department, for example, and patients are seen much more quickly with the institution of a new registration, triage and fast track treatment protocol. The department now boasts board certified Mount Sinai treatment faculty who provide state of the art training in emergency medicine and pediatric emergencies. A new non-invasive cardiology suite provides patients with stress testing, echocardiography, Holter monitoring and nuclear cardiology. The same area holds a new mammography suite and new CT scan equipment. New changing areas offer privacy and comfort.

On the hospital’s fifth floor, a new two-room endoscopy suite awaits patients undergoing this procedure. These patients share waiting areas, including new locker rooms for both men and women, with surgical services patients. Improvements in surgical services available include expertise in minimally invasive surgery, a surgical oncology service, and a full-time chief of anesthesiology and access to Mount Sinai anesthesia faculty, giving the surgical service the ability to undertake more complex procedures. The department also can care for more patients at any given time.

The hospital also has a substantial commitment to outpatient care. Its Family Health Associates division has specialists in internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and a full range of other specialties. Technology improvements throughout the hospital include new clinical information systems, a new telephone system and new computers at all nursing stations for instant access to patient information.

Improvements currently underway include lobby renovations to enhance the hospital’s image as well as its appearance. Waiting and reception space is designed to soothe and calm patients and visitors alike. A patient and community resource room and installation of an ATM are also part of the renovations, scheduled to be completed by December 2003. By spring 2004, the main Emergency Department is expected to be completely renovated. A comprehensive cancer center is due to be established, as is a cardiac catheterization laboratory. Long-term plans include a completely new hospital building; Schwab and Rubenstein acknowledged that this development will require partnership with the community.

The existing hospital continues to progress. It has been designated a Stroke Center, so patients suffering cerebrovascular accidents, or strokes, can have access to the most up-to-date and timely treatment. Patients have the benefit of the highly specialized services available at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Manhattan campus. Significantly, at a time when hospitals across the nation are facing shortages in their nursing staffs, the Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens has no vacancies on its nursing staff. Customer service excellence is ingrained in the Mount Sinai Queens culture, Rubenstein and Schwab added, and service standards are set for and expected to be maintained by every employee, from administration to front-line staff. Multi-day training sessions are frequently held and feedback from patients and visitors is welcomed." These are major improvements," Poveromo said. "That’s getting to be one impressive hospital we have here."


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