BY JOE MARVILLI
A convention center and hotel/apartment complex is coming to Corona.
The DiBlasi Ford dealership at 112-21 Northern Blvd. was bought by the Flushing-based Fleet Financial Group Inc. for $17 million in December. It expects to break ground on the project in June, at a cost of $200 million.
Richard Xia, the president of Fleet Financial Group, said the site was chosen due to its location near transportation and entertainment hubs. The center will be right off the Grand Central Parkway and positioned near the Whitestone Expressway, Long Island Expressway and LaGuardia Airport.
“The location is ideal for a convention center as its proximity to two major airports and on the intersection of almost all major highways,” he said. “It will create thousands of new jobs for the local community and adjacent areas and more importantly, keep lots of business travelers in Queens, which will in turn to increase more business activity.”
Fleet Financial Group’s convention center will be a state-of-the-art, 106,000-square-foot structure situated on the 1.67 acre site. A building on top of the convention center would include 292 five-star hotel rooms and 236 apartments. The group also plans to include 97,000-square-feet of retail space, a restaurant, parking and a “breathtaking” view of Flushing Bay. It will also be environmentally-friendly, as they are aiming for LEED Gold certification.
The convention center and hotel is scheduled to be completed by 2017.
Fleet Financial Group has also made efforts to keep the surrounding community informed about the development, having reached out to Community Board 3 and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras’ office.
Ferreras said she was pleased to see the convention center and hotel coming to Corona.
“In the spirit of economic development, it is my hope that the new developers will be a good neighbor and bring a wealth of job opportunities to the local community,” she said.
The project will take place just across the Grand Central Parkway from another massive project that includes a retail center and housing: Willets Point. Xia said the convention center would complement that development once it is complete.
“It will serve as a good venue for local and regional business meetings and events, which will certainly be needed as result of large development project in Willets Point,” he said.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.