Criterion Group buys Long Island City development site for $80M

Developer poised to build more residential units on the site

Criterion Group's Shibber Khan and 22-09 Queens Plaza North in Queens (Credit: Criterion Group via YouTube and Google Maps)
Criterion Group's Shibber Khan and 22-09 Queens Plaza North in Queens (Credit: Criterion Group via YouTube and Google Maps)

Shibber Khan’s Criterion Group paid just shy of $80 million for a Long Island City development site that had been the subject of a lawsuit with the property’s seller.

The Astoria-based developer paid $79.95 million for the two parcels just north of Queensboro Plaza between 22nd and 23rd streets, property records filed with the city Tuesday show.

The seller is listed as PEC Realty Corporation, which property records connect to Allan Briteway Electrical Contractors Inc. A representative for Allan Briteway could not be immediately reached for comment.

It’s not known yet exactly what Criterion’s plans are for the site. No building permits have been filed, and Criterion also did not return a request for comment.

Paul Halvatzis of Amorelli Realty and Lauren Cornea of N.Y. Collective Corp. brokered the deal.

The deal over the two parcels, at 22-09 Queens Plaza North and 22-09 41st Avenue, closed last week after a judge dismissed a lawsuit that PEC filed over the site in 2017.

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Criterion agreed to buy the site for $70 million in 2014, but the purchase agreement stipulated that the price tag could jump to $80 million should Criterion obtain a zoning change to allow for more residential space, according to the judge’s ruling.

After Khan filed for a zoning change with the Department of City Planning, the DCP informed Khan not to proceed with his application. The DCP was going to rezone the area itself. Once it did, the value of the property “skyrocketed,” according to the order.

That’s when property owner PEC Realty filed its complaint against Criterion. The lawsuit filed in 2017 in part said PEC had no obligation to sell the property because Criterion did not obtain the zoning relief itself. Criterion in turn called for PEC to move forward with the $80 million sale, according to the judge’s order.

The judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2018, arguing that Criterion already agreed to pay the full $80 million regardless of zoning changes.

The Real Deal reported in 2011 that the site was on the market, asking $39 million at the time.

Elsewhere in Queens, Criterion sold a waterfront site at 30-77 Vernon Boulevard to Cape Advisors last year for $85 million. Criterion had been planning to construct a 711-unit residential building there; Cape Advisors’ residential project will span two buildings, each nine stories tall.