The Long Beach Zoning Board of Appeals has set a special April 10 meeting that could decide the fate of the proposed Superblock apartment towers along the boardwalk.
The city set the meeting following a Jan. 25 court order to hold a new hearing to review variances and permits granted to developers of the Superblock in 2014 and 2015.
Seven zoning board members will determine if the building permit granted to Manhattan developers iStar Financial should be nullified or extended. If the board rejects the extension, it could expose the city to millions in litigation from developers and could effectively kill the development of the property that has remained vacant and contested for 40 years.
Residents challenged the permit and variances through a lawsuit last year to allow developers to spend $336 million to build two 160-foot-tall buildings with 522 oceanfront apartments along the Long Beach boardwalk, along with 11,000 square feet of boardwalk-level retail space.
Developers have said they cannot build the apartment towers without tax breaks from Nassau County and have twice been denied tax breaks up to $129 million. Developers have threatened to file a $105 million lawsuit against Long Beach city officials if they did not support their application for tax breaks. City officials said they have fulfilled their obligation in a settlement between the city and iStar to support a request for tax breaks from Nassau County and develop the property.
The variances were granted to build 50 feet taller than the city’s building code, along Shore Road, between Long Beach and Riverside boulevards. They were contingent on “all necessary permits obtained within nine months,” of when the permit was first granted and construction to begin within a year, but iStar only applied for a foundation permit on the property.
The building permit has been extended for the past two years but is set to expire May 28 and the variances could also be revoked.
Long Beach Corporation Counsel Rob Agostisi said in a January legal brief that iStar representatives argued they had a “vested, absolute and indefeasible right to construct the development.”
“Shedding light on iStar’s motives demonstrates why it has resorted to making gross misrepresentations which, it clearly believes, are needed to survive this challenge and save the project,” Agostisi wrote.
An attorney for iStar did not respond to requests Tuesday for comment.
Representatives for iStar have still not filed for any additional building permits and have not filed a new request for tax breaks from the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. City officials said iStar has invested $70 million in the property, but has withheld future permit applications while seeking tax breaks.
“On one hand iStar was required to obtain all necessary permits by May 28, 2015, on the other, it represented to the Nassau County IDA that the superblock would remain vacant unless tax abatements were conferred,” Agostisi wrote.
The zoning board meeting is set for 7 p.m. April 10 on the sixth floor of Long Beach City Hall, 1 W. Chester Ave. A decision is not expected during the meeting.