Board greenlights transient hotel in downtown Flushing


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

Photo renderings courtesy of Fleet Financial Group
Photo renderings courtesy of Fleet Financial Group

The developer of an 18-story building in downtown Flushing received a key nod to operate as a short-stay hotel.

Community Board 7 voted 30-8 to approve a variance with conditions that would allow developer Fleet Financial Group to function as a transient hotel over a residential one at 42-31 Union Street.

Guests are required to rent rooms for at least 30 days in resident hotels, but can stay for shorter times in standard, transient ones.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation gave developer Richard Xia approval to build a Westin Element extended-stay hotel with 161 rooms, as well as a nine-story medical facility. The building’s foundation is already 70 percent complete.

Xia, who purchased the property for $17 million, needs permission from both the community board and the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) to stray from his original plans.

“I think Flushing needs something like this,” said Xia, the site’s sole owner and president of Fleet Financial Group.

“I’m pretty sure that by the time this building is done, it’s going to be something everybody likes. It’s going to provide a critical medical facility, which we need in this area.”

There would be about 40 suites inside the 44,000-square-foot North Queens Medical Center, according to Vincent Petraro, the zoning and land use attorney representing Xia. Nearly 200 jobs would be created.

“In the last few years, Queens has lost at least four hospitals,” Petraro said. “There is a need for medical space in this area and throughout Queens.”

Some of the conditions the community board voted on include having the developer provide 300 paid, public parking spaces and a guest shuttle from the hotel to Main Street. The hotel also cannot offer catering, a restaurant or liquor, the board said.

Xia is also seeking permission to build to 243 feet, which is the maximum height the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows. The FAA and Port Authority have already approved the height.

Both applications now go to the BSA, which has not yet scheduled a public hearing.

Neighbors of the site said construction has ruined their quality of life and caused the foundation of their century-old apartment building to crack.

They have an ongoing petition against the next-door tower with 32 signatures so far.

“Since the project started, everybody’s life is miserable,” said neighbor Erica Brassoi. “They’re destroying everybody’s life.”

Xia, who lives and works in Flushing, agreed to delay morning construction by 30 minutes. He also offered to pay for the demolition of a neighboring church, which is slated to undergo its own expansion project.

“I’m going to honor that in front of everyone in the community,” he said. “The noise won’t last forever.”

 

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