New Flushing hotels planned

Jia Ye Realty LLC plans to build 12-story hotel tower (l.) on Prince Street, while Leavitt Street LLC plans to build one on College Point Boulevard (r.). Renderings courtesy Michael Kang Architect, PLLC
By Connor Adams Sheets

Downtown Flushing’s skyline will gain two new towers if a pair of developers move forward with the plans they presented before Community Board 7 Monday night.

Their plans are to start building two 12-story buildings in the downtown corridor within the next year if they get final approval from the city Board of Standards and Appeals, which will now make a final ruling on the projects.

Leavitt Street LLC plans to put up the first building on a vacant lot at 39-16 College Point Blvd. that used to be a gas station. Jia Ye Realty LLC plans to replace a two-story building at 36-27 Prince St. with its tower.

The buildings did not undergo a full vetting by CB 7 or the BSA since the hotels are to be built as-of-right, with only one sticking point that needed to be reviewed. As eight-story buildings, they would have been able to go up without any community review, but in order to build 12 stories, their developers were required to get a Federal Aviation Administration waiver because of their close proximity to LaGuardia Airport.

“In the zoning areas in which they lie, even at 12 stories, they’re both as-of-right construction,” Steven Simicich, an attorney representing both developers, told CB 7 members. “The only reason we’re here is because they’re in the airport area.”

The city Department of Buildings approved the projects, with the stipulation that the waivers must be approved, and on Monday CB 7 voted on whether or not to approve the height restriction, a formality of sorts given the FAA’s approval of it.

Board members were not allowed to base their votes on any other considerations, such as the impact on traffic, schools, the economic viability or appearance of the hotels. The members voted to support the FAA’s decision to grant the waiver by unanimous vote, clearing one of the final hurdles for the buildings to move forward. A couple of board members grumbled about voting to approve the waiver before casting their votes, saying the projects would have a negative impact on the downtown area.

“Aren’t there a lot of big hotels and development in downtown Flushing already?” CB 7 member Selma Moses asked. “Isn’t it going to sink?”

But Kelty reiterated that the vote only concerned the flight restriction, not the building plans themselves or their potential impacts.

Some members wondered whether Flushing could handle more hotel rooms in its downtown district, which already faces a slew of new development projects in coming years.

But Frank Macchio, CB 7’s third vice chairman, said the demand seems to be there.

“Several national hotel chains have expressed interest in the buildings,” he said, though he did not indicate which hotel chains.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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