NEW YORK – Greek-American billionaire businessman and former mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis was recently interviewed in the New York Post concerning his plans for expanding the nearly finished Ocean Drive residential real estate project in Coney Island and suggested the possibility that he would spend his money in Florida rather than New York City if the city continues to raise objections to the plans.
“Do I spend the money here or in Florida?” Catsimatidis told the Post which added that “about $1 billion [is] required to build three new larger towers.”
“You’ve got to get the best for your investment,” Catsimatidis continued, “Why spend in New York when you can build in Florida,” the Post reported
According to the Post, “it would be a blow to the city if the owner of Gristedes supermarkets takes his money elsewhere as other big-bucks business moguls have been doing,” noting that “Coney Island remains mostly poor, under-serviced and crime-ridden despite boardwalk and amusement-park improvements.”
Catsimatidis is also the owner of WABC-AM Radio, the host of Cats Roundtable podcast, “developer of four buildings in Fort Greene- and TV pitchman for the fancifully named Ocean Drive towers,” the Post reported, adding that “he also has a large footprint in St. Petersburg, FL, where he’s about to break ground on a $300 million complex to include a 46-story condo tower.”
“Ocean Drive at 3514 Surf Avenue is a 22-story, twin tower rental apartment complex with a Miami-inspired, blue and white façade with terraces on most of its 450 apartments,” the Post reported.
“From almost every apartment you see the ocean. Breathe in the ocean air and I certify you’re going to feel 10 years younger,” Catsimatidis told the Post.
He purchased “the six-acre oceanfront site 10 years ago and spent $400 million to build the first two towers,” the Post reported.
“I went to Coney Island and fell in love,” Catsimatidis told the Post.
The expansion which includes three additional, larger towers on the east of Ocean Drive could be more difficult to realize, since “as was the case with the first portion, he would need city approval for more FAR (floor-to-area ratio) than zoning in the mostly low-rise area allows,” the Post reported, noting that the approval will be harder to get “now than it was in 2011 when Catsimatidis got the green light for the first phase.”
“Anti-development activists have shot down proposals in many parts of town,” the Post reported, adding that “Coney Island critics claim the project would add to ‘gentrification’ that’s underway due to a development boom nearby, including an apartment complex by LCOR in the former parking lot of Gargiulo’s restaurant.”
New York City Councilman Mark Treyger “could single-handedly kill Catsimatidis’ dream,” the Post reported, noting that he “told a community board meeting that he wouldn’t have approved the size of the first Ocean Drive buildings ‘because of affordability issues’ had he been on the Council at the time, Bklyner.com reported.” Under the New York City Council’s “member deference” precedent, the body usually acquiesces to the local member’s wishes, the Post reported.
Catsimatidis’ development manager, Ralph Zirinsky, told The Post that “the size and height of the proposed new towers ‘would be determined as part of the ULURP [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] process. Given the complexities and costs of building on the ocean, we would like to achieve at least 8 to 10 FAR’ — compared with 5 FAR for the first part,” adding that “there’s no formal proposal yet and an architect is yet to be chosen.”
Ocean Drive’s apartments range from $1,800 to over $3,410 a month and “are all market-rate,” the Post reported, adding that “Treyger recently called the lack of affordable units ‘outrageous.’”
Amenities for the residents include “a 50-foot pool, lounges, sundeck, and soon a D’Agostino supermarket,” the Post reported.
Catsimatidis said “half of the first tower’s units are rented and the second one will go on the market in March,” the Post reported, adding that “the new towers will also be all-market-rate.”
“Our feeling was, there are plenty of affordables [geographically] behind us already. This is an equalizing factor. We want a balanced neighborhood,” Catsimatidis told the Post, noting that he is “bullish on Coney Island.”
“We’re trying to anticipate New York City’s comeback and Brooklyn first,” he told the Post which then asked him “Why Brooklyn?”
Catsimatidis responded, “I’m usually pretty right,” the Post reported.
In a recent interview with the Tampa Bay Business Journal, however, Catsimatidis said, “I’m getting a little bit disgusted with what’s happening in the Northeast.”
Catsimatidis, “without naming his choice for next [New York City] mayor,” told the Post, “If we don’t get the right guy, we’re in deep [bleep].”