Huge 35-story hotel near Citibank tower may cloud Long Island City skyline
BY Lisa L. Colangelo
September 16th 2009
A Japanese firm's proposal to build a 35-story hotel near the Citibank tower in Long Island City is raising eyebrows among community leaders.
Toyoko Inn New York LLC, which snapped up five plots of land along Jackson Ave. almost two years ago, still needs approvals from several city agencies and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to add entrances to the Court Square Station on the 7 line as part of the project.
Current zoning allows the company to construct the 699-unit structure if it makes transit improvements.
"When we first heard about it and spread the word, people looked at me like I was crazy," said neighborhood activist Tom Paino. "No one really could believe it."
Toyoko, known for its "no-frills" business hotels in Japan, is looking to build subway entrances at 23rd St. and 44th Drive.
"It's going to be a monster," said Joseph Conley, chairman of Community Board 2. "It is one of those things that was not contemplated when the zoning change took place."
Hotels have been popping up all over Long Island City, which is just a few quick subway stops from midtown Manhattan.
But local residents are worried the sagging economy will not rebound in time to make the project viable.
"I don't quite understand how they will attract that many people," said Paino.
Conley said some people are worried about future problems if the hotel fails.
"Hotels have the ability to turn into SROs and facilities for the homeless," Conley said, referring to single-room-occupancy apartments.
Jay Segal, an attorney who is representing Toyoko, said it's too soon to talk about plans for the hotel.
"The hotel won't be built for a while, not until there is an agreement on the subway improvements," he said.
Segal said it's unclear how long it will take to get clearance for the subway improvements. An application is pending at the City Planning Commission.
Paino said he hopes the developer meets with the community before putting shovels in the ground.
"If they are taking a risk like that to put a hotel of that size out here they should reach out a little," Paino said.