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Durst Bought Out Of Long Island City Megaproject

The 44-02 Vernon Blvd. site that Durst Organization was bought out of this week.

Durst Organization has stepped out of a development project on the Long Island City waterfront, bringing years of legal wrangling between the firm and the site's owners to a close.

Developer Bruce Teitelbaum and MaryAnne Gilmartin’s MAG Partners purchased Durst’s position at 44-02 Vernon Blvd. for about $96.9M, The Real Deal reports. The deal, for which Teitelbaum and partners secured financing Tuesday, will remove one roadblock to the redevelopment of the site that has been held up for years as a result of disputes.

Durst has the mortgage on the site and had tried to foreclose on it in 2009. Teitelbaum had tried to pay the loan back, but the sides couldn't reach an agreement on how much was owed and what interest should be paid, per TRD, so the dispute ended in a buyout.

The 6-acre site is part of a larger, 28-acre district near Anable Basin, where TF Cornerstone, Plaxall and Simon Baron Development also own sites. Amazon had planned to build a new headquarters in the area, but after the e-commerce giant killed those plans in 2019, the developers began planning to work with the city on building a new mixed-use project on the site. But in 2020, the de Blasio administration backed out of plans and withdrew the city's own piece of land from any shared project.

The Vernon Boulevard site could be home to a 1.2M SF residential building as of right, but the developers are seeing a rezoning in order to create something bigger, per TRD. Any rezoning would likely need approval from the local city council member, Julie Won.

She has already put developers Silverstein Properties, Kaufman Astoria Studios and BedRock Real Estate Partners on notice — the group is seeking to rezone five city blocks in Astoria, but she told them they need to do more outreach before starting the approval process.

Teitelbaum is facing an uphill battle across the East River to get a new development across the line. The project at West 145th Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem, dubbed One45, has been met with hostility from the local city council member, Kristin Richardson Jordan, who has said she won’t give it the green light.

Last week, Teitelbaum, whose RPG Group is seeking to develop two largely luxury residential towers, told The City his company will release a new plan for the property this week that will feature more affordable housing.