Tag Archives: Fleet Financial Group

Convention center and 25-story hotel headed for Corona


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Fleet Financial Group

A convention center complex as big as a city block, with a 25-story hotel and apartments, may be coming to Queens. 

Fleet Financial Group plans to build a roughly 106,000-square-foot convention center, the largest in the East Coast, at 112-21 Northern Blvd. in Corona.

The $200 million real estate project also includes 292 river-view hotel rooms, 236 luxurious apartments, a shopping center and a high-class restaurant.

“That area is really booming. It’s going to be great for Queens,” said Fleet president Richard Xia.

The site is near Citi Field, where a major $3 billion redevelopment project, including a mega mall, is slated for Willets Point. It is also by the Grand Central Parkway, about two miles from LaGuardia Airport.

“People pass by, but they never stop here,” said Xia, who lives and works in Flushing. “It’s going to be something that will create a lot of jobs and, in the meantime, bring a lot more business activity to Queens.”

Fleet purchased the 1.67-acre property — currently the site of the DiBlasi Ford dealership — last month for $17 million, according to Xia.

The company is also in the midst of completing an 18-story Westin Element hotel, with a medical center, at 42-31 Union St. in Flushing.

Construction of the massive complex in Corona, dubbed the Eastern Emerald Center, would create nearly 3,000 jobs, Xia said.

Work is expected to start this June and end in 2017, though the proposal still needs approval from Community Board 3, the Queens borough president and the city.

The project has support from Queens Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Seth Bornstein and Queens Chamber of Commerce President Al Pennisi.

“It sounds like a really good idea,” Bornstein said. “We lack quality, large-scale space for events. It would really be a benefit to the borough.”

Pennisi said the city “could use more than one” facility like the Javits Center in Manhattan.

“[The Chamber] thought of this project,” Pennisi said. “It’ll bring conventions of all sizes into a modern facility. Everybody will benefit from it.”

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras and Victor Rodriguez, a Corona resident who owns a mini market near the proposed complex, hope the development will be a boon for the neighborhood.

“I think it’s good for us,” Rodriguez said. “It’ll bring more people here.”

But a local educator, who did not want to be named, said the slated site is near too many schools on an already accident-prone portion of Northern Boulevard.

“To have something of that magnitude, and all these people coming to town, I can’t see how that improves anything,” she said. “Money is good and people need jobs, but there are so many other things not fixed as is.”

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Board greenlights transient hotel in downtown Flushing


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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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