March 10, By Hannah Wulkan
The owner of the Astoria Sports Complex revealed further details this week on his plans to expand the facility and add a regulation size hockey rink and soccer field on top of the existing structure.
Complex owner Steve Poliseno said that he will not be changing anything within the existing facility—despite initial miscommunications–but plans to add two more floors on top of the building, bringing the entire rooftop up to meet the height of an existing 75-foot tall tower.
The Complex building was initially built in 1929 as an ice factory, supplying the entire neighborhood with ice. Poliseno’s older brother worked at the factory, and when it shut down in the late 1970s, the two brothers and their father all bought the dilapidated building together, much of which was condemned.
They initially opened up some paddleball and handball courts, and over the years slowly expanded to include a gym and a swimming pool in the main floors of the building, and two indoor soccer fields and event spaces in the taller tower, which is about a third of the size of the base building.
The business has remained within the family, and though Poliseno’s brother died years ago, Poliseno has continued to run it with his children.
Now, he is looking to expand further. Under his current plan, he is looking to add two more stories to the building, with a regulation size ice rink on the third floor and a regulation size soccer field on the fourth floor, both with mezzanine levels overlooking them for spectators, with seating, snack bars, bathrooms and locker rooms. The plan would also add a huge rooftop event space that could hold more than 500 people.
The expansion would also dramatically increase the occupancy levels permitted within the building, from the currently allowed 422 people to 3,944 people including the rooftop.
“In order to stay alive we have to adapt the business to the needs of the neighborhood,” Poliseno explained.
He added that because he would simply be adding the new structure on top of the existing building, he plans to keep the gym and facilities open throughout construction.
Poliseno initially started the process of expanding in 2004, but ran in to issues over ownership of the building with his brother’s children. Those disputes were resolved in 2011, and now Poliseno is looking to revive his dream of expanding.
For instance, if a building were constructed of a similar size as he proposes, zoning would require there to be 20-feet between the property boundary and the edge of the building. However, because the building was put up in the 1920s, it currently abuts all property lines, and adding a yard would be nearly impossible. In order to expand the building, Poliseno needs the BSA to waive the rear yard requirement.
If approved by the BSA, Poliseno said he would like to start the multi-million dollar project as soon as possible, given how long it has taken him to get to this point. He estimated that it would take about two years to complete the expansion.
He said that he has already ensured that the roof is enforced enough to support the weight of the ice, and has done all the necessary testing and reinforcing of the foundation of the building.
Poliseno will bring the project before Community Board 1 at its meeting on March 21, though several Land Use committee members expressed concern over how the proposed 75-foot height would affect the neighborhood at a committee meeting last week.
The BSA will review Poliseno’s application after the Community Board votes on whether or not to support the project. It will evaluate the project based on several criteria, including whether not allowing it would present a financial hardship to Poliseno and if the proposed enlargement would be the minimum necessary adjustment to make the business viable.
“I want to build this for the good of the community, we don’t have anything like this anywhere nearby,” Poliseno said.