A Brooklyn-based developer who pleaded guilty in a pay-to-play scheme, where he paid a councilwoman in return for a contract with the city, is planning to build a 7-story hotel in Jackson Heights.
Mohammed Aziz filed plans to construct a 22-unit complex at 37-38 73rd St. described as transitional housing for people who need a place to stay while looking for a permanent apartment or house, DNAinfo first reported. A two-story building with a number of shops currently stands at that location.
In 2012, Aziz pleaded guilty to paying Brooklyn Councilwoman Darlene Mealy $5,000 to obtain a contract with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. He was not sentenced to jail but paid a $1,000 fine.
Several politicians have released statements arguing that the city should not grant him a permit to work on the structure. According to plans filed with the Department of Buildings, the 13,639 square-foot structure would include 111,703 square feet for the units and 1,936 square feet of community facility space.
Assemblyman Francisco Moya said that Aziz is not welcome in Jackson Heights because “we do not trust his integrity.”
“We do not repair New York’s image as a swamp of political corruption by welcoming the same criminals to return back into the community to continue their business as usual,” Moya said. “Mr. Aziz pleaded guilty for the one pay-to play scheme he was caught in the act for. It is unknown whether there were more instances of corruption beforehand and it is unknown whether there will be more in the future, but we do know he has the character for that kind of behavior.”
He added that the developer has a history of donating to political campaigns through his corporation Delight Construction.
Aziz told DNAinfo that the hotel would act as a place for immigrants or new residents to stay for several months while they look for a more permanent place to live.
“They can rent monthly room, come in this country and stay for two three months,” he told DNAinfo. “They can rent their own apartment and they can move out from there.”
State Senator Jose Peralta last week said that the hotel would be constructed in an already congested area of Jackson Heights with little public services. He charged that the additional people would place an extra burden on the area’s limited resources.
Plans to construct a hotel on a small lot located in a very congested area of Jackson Heights has one too many unanswered questions, especially since the developer is describing the project as a residential hotel,” he said. “What impact will this hotel have on the quality of life of the neighbors and the neighborhood? What about extra garbage pickups once it opens its doors? Are there going to be extra cleaning services on the streets in the area? How is it going to affect traffic? Clearly, there are a lot of questions that need an answer.”
Aziz did not respond to our request for comment as of press time.