Community Board 7 Approves Hotel Variances

BY JOE MARVILLI
Staff Writer

A $70 million hotel development that Community Board 7 tabled in November was back on the agenda for last Monday’s meeting, this time with better results.

Two variances for a development called C.A. Plaza Hotel Indigo were voted on at the board meeting on Feb. 10, the leftover items from the original discussion late last year. The development, a 14-story office and a 12-story hotel with a spa in the middle, would fill out a vacant 38,000-square-foot site at 36-18 Main St. The two remaining items, to allow for reduced parking and to changing the building’s use from medical space to office space, were approved after the hotel made changes to alleviate traffic.

Traffic was the big argument against allowing the variances at the November meeting. CB7 chair Gene Kelty had a problem with the hotel’s parking garage entrance being on Prince Street, about 50 feet away from the intersection of Northern Boulevard. He said that Prince Street is already congested and that a line of cars would build up from people waiting to turn into or out of the hotel.

After an hour of arguing, Richard Lobel, a lawyer representing the development, offered to table variances until this month’s meeting, taking the time to review the parking and traffic situations. The situation eventually spilled out into a hallway screaming match between two board members.

This month, the process was much calmer, as the development made the changes necessary to prevent a massive traffic jam. First off, the hotel increased its setback, AKA the distance from the curb, from 10 feet to 22 feet, giving additional breathing room for cars entering and leaving the hotel. The internal traffic between the hotel drop-off circle and the parking garage had also been adjusted to let vehicles flow easier in and out of the site.

“We wanted to make sure traffic can circulate,” Lobel said.

The development also said that it would push the Dept. of Transportation for a traffic light at 36th Avenue, to make sure that there was not gridlock by Prince Street and Northern Boulevard. The light would have to be timed with the light on Northern Boulevard so cars could pass right through.

“Not only would we be happy to do that, we’d appreciate the community board’s support on that,” Lobel said.

While some of members of the board were still concerned about the potential traffic, the changes and promises made by the development appeased most of the board. The variances were approved by a vote of 27 to 2.

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, jmarvilli@queenstribune.com, or @Joey788.