BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
A seven-story residential hotel that is being planned for construction in Jackson Heights has raised concerns with local leaders, who say that there is little information available on what the community can expect at the site.
Plans for the 22-unit building, which will be located at 37-38 73rd Ave., have been filed by Faisal Development LLC owner Mohammad Aziz with the city’s Department of Buildings. According to the plans, the building would be constructed as a residential hotel.
Currently, a two-story commercial building exists at the site. But according to plans filed with the city, the new building would allow guests to use the hotel as a place to stay as they search for permanent homes.
The narrow building would contain seven floors, with five bedrooms on the third through sixth floors and two bedrooms on the seventh. The first floor would contain a lobby area, and a 1,900-square-foot community center would be located on the second floor. An outdoor recreational center would be built on the rooftop.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst) said he hopes that Aziz will seek input from Community Board 3 before beginning construction. He said that he wants to know what impact the hotel would have on the community’s quality of life. He is also seeking information on the site’s plans for extra garbage pickups, whether or not there would be extra street cleaning around the perimeter of the hotel and how the property would affect traffic in the area.
“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,” said Peralta. “Since the area already has limited public services available, bringing more people into the community will put an extra burden on these limited resources. It is my hope the developer seeks input from the community board and community-based organizations to study if a seven-story, 22-unit hotel in this overcrowded area is needed.”
Faisal Development LLC also owns the two-story building that is currently located on the lot. The developer has proposed the construction of the hotel since the current building is in need of repair and is losing money.
Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) announced on Tuesday that he opposes the project, and called on the city not to approve the plans. He said that the community has been kept in the dark in regard to plans for the site, and cited the fact that Aziz had formerly pleaded guilty to charges of partaking in a pay-to-play scheme in Brooklyn in 2012.
Aziz had been caught attempting to give $5,000 in cash to former Brooklyn Councilwoman Darlene Mealy in exchange for help obtaining a contract through the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. He did not serve jail time, but agreed to pay a $1,000 fine.
“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,” said Moya. “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. Jackson Heights does not welcome Mr. Aziz’s new hotel because we do not have trust in his integrity.”
Although he has filed plans with the Department of Buildings, the project has not yet been approved. Aziz said that he hopes the hotel will be in operation by 2019.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.