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Diner serves up condos

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More condos are on the way for Sheepshead Bay.

A seven-story condominium with ground-floor retail is replacing the iconic El Greco diner, which closed in December after more than 40 years of business.

But a new condo complex — tentatively scheduled to start construction in six to nine months — means an influx of new residents to the waterfront neighborhood, which is too much to swallow for one longtime local.

“We have traffic jams and gridlock where we never had it before, and yet we’re building more,” said Steve Barrison, president of the Bay Improvement Group. “We’re at the crossroads, we’re at a point where we’ve reached the point — we’re full.”

Rybak Developers bought the Emmons Avenue property for $13 million dollars from Anastasia Venetoklis — whose late-husband built the diner — and her sons, Peter and George. The site is bigger than nine basketball courts and the development will include a pedestrian plaza and a pool.

The real estate company that brokered the sale said the area is the perfect place for a new condo development.

“Southern Brooklyn is providing local businesspeople and property owners with excellent opportunities to maximize the return on their investments,” said Erik Yankelovich, the senior director for GFI Realty Services, Incorporated, which sold the property for the Venetoklis family. “Neighborho­ods such as Sheepshead Bay are being revitalized with an influx of young professionals due to their waterfront charm and affordabil­ity.”

But Barrison believes developers are exploiting the waterfront area. Work is already underway on a 30-story tower on Voorhies Avenue and Barrison said too many developers are focusing on making a quick profit without thinking about safety or the long-term impacts on residents or infrastructure.

“This is about quality of life and public safety — the more people you cram into a waterfront district, the more people you have to evacuate,” said Barrison. “We’re adding more bodies, more concrete, more toilets, more sewer flow.”

The new condo development will change the community, agreed the chairwoman of Community Board 15 — but she said at least this residential building, unlike other current projects, won’t overwhelm residents with an oversized structure.

“It is not as obtrusive as the one on Voorhies,” said CB15 chairwoman Theresa Scavo. “It really wasn’t in your face.”

She said even though she would rather have the decades-old diner remain a neighborhood staple, residents need to embrace the raw reality.

“I prefer a diner, but they’re not going to let it stay there, so there is no choice,” said Scavo.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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