By Alex Christodoulides
The parking lot of Pasta Lovers Trattoria on Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens may be the site of a new 21-story hotel and apartment tower, whose construction is a big surprise to residents who live in the lower-rise buildings behind it.
Excavation began June 30, confirming longtime rumors that the restaurant's owner was planning to build a high-rise on the parking lot behind the eatery, residents of the L-shaped Courtview building behind the 82nd Avenue site said.
Pasta Lovers Trattoria's owner could not be reached for comment about the construction.
“The hole is right next to our building. Up until two days ago, the construction equipment was here,” said Courtview resident Malka Fraenkel at a rally at the site Monday afternoon, where residents held signs saying “No Hotel.”
Cars parking in the restaurant's lot had to drive through a gap in the blue-painted fence that denotes a construction site, where the excavation was behind an orange plastic fence.
Fraenkel and fellow Courtview tenant Natalie Dauphin said the work had taken them by surprise.
“He's [the owner] been trying to do this for quite some time, but the plans have been denied three times. Then over the July 4 weekend, the Department of Buildings Web site was down, and afterward all the approvals appeared,” Dauphin said.
The first plans for the construction of a mixed-use building on the lot were approved Feb. 25, according to the DOB Web site, but the permit to begin work was only approved June 25.
The permit says the new building will be a 41-unit, 20-story residential apartment house, but Fraenkel and Dauphin believe it is to be a hotel in the high-end Savoy chain.
“It's both. It's a 21-story building with 41 apartments and 93 hotel rooms,” said Lisa Gomes, the office manager at Community Board 9 in Kew Gardens.
The six-story, 134-unit Courtview building will lose its north views, but another concern for residents was the traffic flow on 82nd Avenue.
“This used to be a two-way street, and they made it one-way for the [Q10] bus,” Dauphin said.
A double-parked car halted the bus' passage during the rally, and she pointed out that if a crane is necessary to build the tower, there is no place to put it but the road or sidewalk, which will snarl traffic.
Corey Washington, who just sold his condo across the street from the site, said the high-rise will affect property values in the area.
“I moved here in 2004 and saw a lot of potential,” he said. “It's a shame because people who're attracted to the neighborhood like the historic feel. I can't imagine having a hotel across the street.”