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Hotel hotbed in Flushing

Rendering courtesy Massey Knakal
By Joe Anuta

A blitz of hotel construction is taking Flushing by storm, but real estate experts wonder on how many more projects the area can sustain.

At least eight new hotels are slated to be built in the area, according to various proposals and announcements.

A developer is currently constructing an 18-story, extended-stay hotel on Union Street boasting 161 rooms. Starwood Hotels is opening two new hotels in the Flushing area with a combined capacity of nearly 300 rooms, while TDC Development is planning on opening a mixed-use project that includes a 168-room hotel.

The real estate company Massey Knakal put up three downtown Flushing hotel sites for sale earlier this month with a total of more than 100 new rooms. One is nearly completed, while two others are shovel-ready, according to the company.

The slew of projects in Flushing mirrors a boroughwide trend, said Rob MacKay, spokesman for the Queens Economic Development Corp.

In the last three decades, the borough has gone from housing roughly 20 hotels — many rented by the hour — to very likely cracking the 100 mark within the next few years.

“There is an unbelievable hotel boom in Queens,” he said, citing other examples around the borough including a Crown Plaza near John F. Kennedy International Airport and a SpringHills Suites near LaGuardia Airport — not to mention the 21 new hotels that have sprung up in the Long Island City area in the last six years.

But it cannot continue forever.

“I think we are going to saturate,” he said. “Some of these hotels are going to go away and people will stop trying to build.”

But it is unclear when that will happen.

Stephen Pruess is an associate broker at Massey Knakal, the company selling the three hotel sites in the downtown Flushing area. He believes these development projects are coming back to life after the 2008 economic downturn.

“Ever since the end of 2010, construction has been revived in Flushing,” he said. “It is really exploding.”

“We will hit a saturation point in a few years, but right now it is an industry that is needed in the downtown and greater Flushing area,” he said, pointing out that Asian travelers landing at LaGuardia and visitors from abroad are looking to stay in the bustling neighborhood.

Massey Knakal’s portfolio includes proposed hotels — each about 40 rooms with similar architectural plans — at 34-36 and 31-02 Linden Place and a nearly completed hotel at 31-26 Linden Place.

The 18-story hotel will be near the corner of Union Street and Sanford Avenue, while the combined 300-room hotel complex is slated for 35th Avenue and Farrington Street.

Michael Meyer of TDC Development, which is building the 168-room Hyatt brand hotel on the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Prince Street, has a hunch the proposed hotel developments in Flushing may already oversaturate the market.

But Evan Weiss, a principal at LW Hospitality Advisors, a company that tracks the hotel market throughout the city, believes Flushing’s growth can sustain the boom.

“I think it has been under-hoteled historically,” he said. “[The new projects] are only going to be a positive development for the area. I think there is going to be sufficient demand.”

Many people looking to stay in Flushing now are finding rooms booked solid, according to Weiss, and have to stay outside the neighborhood at facilities near LaGuardia.

And for example, an existing hotel for sale by Massey Knakal runs at more than 90 percent occupancy, according to Pruess.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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