Bellerose residents protest hotel plans

Bellerose residents protest hotel plans
By Nathan Duke

More than 40 angry Bellerose residents held up signs and protested last weekend against the development of a controversial hotel at the former site of an iconic neighborhood ice cream shop that had been in the community for half a century.

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose) and a vocal crowd of neighborhood residents stood at the corner of 249th Street and Jericho Turnpike in Bellerose, where the Frozen Cup ice cream shop had stood for 50 years before being demolished last month. Community leaders said the neighborhood was in the dark about plans for the hotel that developer Harshad Patel intends to construct at the site.

“This is a family neighborhood,” said resident Mike Reiter, who was concerned that the hotel could turn into a “hot sheets motel” if its owner had difficulty attracting customers. “And nobody in the community knows how big this is going to be.”

Padavan described the rally Saturday morning as a “funeral” for the ice cream shop, while Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich said Patel’s development was unnecessary for the community.

“There are a number of hotels in the area, so another hotel is not the type of usage for the property that would be helpful to the neighborhood,” Friedrich said.

Angela Augugliaro, president of the Queens Colony Civic Association, said there are four hotels within a four−mile radius of the Frozen Cup site, including the Floral Park Motor Lodge and a Quality Inn, which was developed by Patel a half mile away.

“This is not a tourist area,” she said. “The owner of the property is being very deceptive. Here’s a man who came to our meetings and said he’d work with the community, but he went ahead and planned this hotel anyway. We are trying to make this into a business area by creating foot traffic and getting people to shop. We’d prefer retail or a medical facility at the site.”

Augugliaro said developers had also torn out bushes from a home adjacent to the site when they demolished Frozen Cup in April.

Permits for the project were approved by the city Department of Buildings late last month. The hotel, which is as−of−right, will be three stories tall.

The project had originally been disapproved by the city because it exceeded floor−area ratio requirements and there were problems involving compliance with the energy code, a DOB spokeswoman said.

Augugliaro said the community was also concerned that the hotel would create traffic problems in the neighborhood.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.