By Rich Bockmann
The MTA and the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. sealed a deal Wednesday that paves the way for Long Island hotelier Able Management to erect a long-awaited, 24-story lodging-and-retail tower across from the JFK AirTrain station.
The agency’s board voted to approve the $1.7 million sale of 4,181 square feet of property owned by the Long Island Rail Road to GJDC affiliate 93-43 Sutphin LLC, which owns another adjacent 5,794 square feet.
The properties, which combined allow for about 111,200 square feet of buildable area, will then be sold to Able for $4.5 million, to be split 38/62 between the LIRR and Greater Jamaica.
The Port Authority gave the development corporation $2.7 million to purchase the property in 2004, the year after the AirTrain opened, with hopes the nonprofit would be able to lure corporate tenants to the site. The PA was supposed to either collect its money or the property, which houses a 6,000-square-foot building GJDC uses for meetings, if nothing had been built by 2008.
In the meantime, the city rezoned 368 blocks in downtown Jamaica in 2007, changing the area across the AirTrain station from low-density manufacturing to high-rise commercial.
The request for proposal issued for the site last summer touted the more than 200,000 passengers who pass through the downtown area each day using the LIRR, subway, bus and the AirTrain link to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Able is proposing to build a $35 million, 210-room hotel with a full-service restaurant and retail space on the ground floor.
“The location is well-suited for a hotel, as it is directly across from and easily accessible to the Jamaica transit systems. Guests will be able to utilize the AirTrain to and from JFK Airport,” Able CEO Viral Patel said. “We look forward to successful completion of the project and becoming part of the downtown Jamaica business community.”
The company, which manages hotels in Plainview and Brentwood, was chosen over BRP Development Corp. due to “unacceptable contingencies” in the latter’s proposal.
Greater Jamaica President Carlisle Towery touted the private investment as a long-awaited payoff for the groundwork the nonprofit laid with its public partners.
“Able Hotels’ commitment to build this hotel is a major step in our long-term dream of seeing private investment augmenting Greater Jamaica Development Corp.’s public partnership with the MTA and the Port Authority in enhancing downtown Jamaica’s unique potential for transit-oriented development,” he said. “No other neighborhood in New York offers the convenience of a wide array of commercial and retail outlets, combined with subways, the Long Island Rail Road, buses and the AirTrain providing quick and easy access to John F. Kennedy International Airport just a 10-minute ride away.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.