Criterion Group plans 170K-sf industrial building in LIC

After eight years of starts and stops, Shibber Khan’s firm is ready to build in Queens

Criterion Group's Shibber Khan and 22-09 Queens Plaza North (Criterion Group, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)
Criterion Group's Shibber Khan and 22-09 Queens Plaza North (Criterion Group, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)

After a rocky courtship that led to a lawsuit, a near-divorce and an $80 million price tag, Shibber Khan’s Criterion Group is ready to settle down with 22-09 Queens Plaza North.

The industrial and multifamily firm submitted plans to build a 170,000-square-foot industrial building on the Long Island City plot near Queensbridge Park, which it first began pursuing in 2014.

Once completed, the building will stand 65 feet tall and have four loading berths. Its projected floor-area ratio is just 1.52, well below the zoned maximum of 5.0. The main floor will be used for manufacturing, with two upper floors for “business and service,” according to a filing with the Department of Buildings last week. The job will cost an estimated $25.5 million, the plans show.

Criterion had previously mulled a residential development on the property, but never secured the necessary rezoning. The city reportedly told the firm to withdraw its rezoning request for the site in 2015, as City Planning was already conducting a neighborhood-wide study of zoning regulations. But the city’s comprehensive plan fell through in 2017, and the parcel remains zoned for light industrial use, according to city maps.

Still, offices, hotels and retail uses are allowed in the land’s zoning class — but with industrial space in high demand, Criterion appears to be taking the bird in its hand.

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Khan’s firm first moved to buy the land in 2014 for $70 million, with a stipulation to increase the price to $80 million if it secured a rezoning to allow residential development on the plot. The seller, PEC Realty Corporation, sued in 2017 to cancel the deal.

Under the impression that a rezoning was imminent, the seller understood the land was worth much more as a residential project, and wanted to back out of the sale because Criterion itself hadn’t initiated the change. A judge dismissed the suit two years later, and Criterion was allowed to proceed with the acquisition for the higher $80 million price.

Based in Astoria, Queens, Criterion owns a smattering of industrial properties up and down the East Coast. The firm didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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