Residents of the 600 block of West Penn Street are considering legal action against the city, nearly three months after the Zoning Board of Appeals approved the development of a roughly 60-foot-tall luxury condominium project on West Broadway that residents say will negatively affect the character of their street.
Two residents, Naomi Feller and Susan Slack, said they intend to file suit against the city in State Supreme Court in Mineola, claiming that the board’s decision was arbitrary. “The zoning code seems to have been overlooked,” said Slack. “We feel like we’ve been dismissed and victimized because we pay our taxes, we love our area. The people on our block, and people on Broadway, too, we’re now being forced to accept something that would change our quality of life.”
On July 26, the zoning board voted 5-1 (one trustee abstained) to approve a request by Long Beach developer David Shokrian to build a five-story, 18-unit condominium, replacing what is now a rundown, two-story apartment building at 661 W. Broadway that many say has become known for criminal activity (see sidebar).
Residents say they already have to contend with the Grandell Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, at 645 W. Broadway, an expansive, seven-story building that dates to the early 1970s and looms over their landmark red-brick neighborhood. They argue that the condominiums will block even more sunlight and ocean breezes.
Despite expressing some reservations about the project, the zoning board granted a variance that allows Shokrian to build 26 feet higher than the city’s building code limit of 35 feet, along with six other variances that allow him to build closer to adjacent homes.
For his part, Shokrian compromised with the board by agreeing to build 18 one- and two-bedroom units instead of 20. The building's top floor will have a 25-foot setback to allow more light onto West Penn Street, according to Shokrian.
He purchased the property in 2006 for $2.5 million, he said, explaining that the project will cost him $10 million. Construction is expected to begin next summer, and will take two years. The new building is aimed at attracting young professionals and empty-nesters” to the area.