Brooklyn Will Have New Condos, but Will It Have a Walmart?

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor After several failed attempts to step into the Queens and Staten Island markets, Walmart is now trying to move into the Jamaica Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, in a retail space at the soon-to-be-expanded Gateway Mall. The [...]

After several failed attempts to step into the Queens and Staten Island markets, Walmart is now trying to move into the Jamaica Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, in a retail space at the soon-to-be-expanded Gateway Mall. The plan has already created some controversy, as the mall is located in close proximity to a 40-acre landfill that is owned jointly by the state and the city.

The developers, The Related Cos. and Cerberus Capital, agreed to pay the city $35 million for a 26-acre piece of land, but there is no available information regarding how much they are willing to pay for the 14-acre piece owned by the state. The Related Cos. did agree to pay about $21 million before the recession; since then, the price of the land has reportedly dropped 15 percent.

At the end of 2010, the New York State Office of General Services signed the contract for a compromise price of $14.5 million, but with the value of the property in question, the attorney general’s staff  is asking the Office of General Services for revisions.

The city’s purchase price has also been questioned. Josh Kellerman, a policy analyst with New York Jobs with Justice, thinks that the price paid by the city is the result of a faulty appraisal by the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD), as the study does not include some zoning changes adopted in 2009 that allow for construction of an area of 3.8 million square feet of retail and residential space.

Additionally, local business owners are not enthused by Walmart’s entry into the market because they fear the move could take them off the market.

Meanwhile, a long-delayed residential project is finally taking shape. The Chetrit Group plans to convert the former Caledonian Hospital at 100 Parkside Ave., which fronts Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, into a 270-unit condominium and rental development set to come on the market within one year.

The development at 100 Parkside is quite unusual because most of the residential projects launched since the recession have been rentals, following the market’s trends. According to recent reports in the first quarter of 2011, only 49 condominium offering plans were submitted to the New York Attorney General’s Office for approval, as compared to 79 submissions during the same period of 2010.