New Hotel at Jamaica Transportation Hub Wins Preliminary Approval

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on September 17, 2013 9:54am 

 A rendering of a new hotel coming to downtown Jamaica.
A rendering of a new hotel coming to downtown Jamaica.
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Greater Jamaica Development Corporation

QUEENS — An MTA committee approved a $35 million hotel Monday that would be built near the Jamaica AirTrain station.

The MTA’s Finance Committee voted in favor of the hotel, which, if built, would bring more than 200 new rooms to the area and be an important component in the neighborhood's revitalization efforts.

The full MTA board is expected to vote on the project Wednesday.

The 24-story hotel would also bring jobs to the neighborhood and provide a sit-down restaurant and ground-floor retail space to serve tourists traveling to and from JFK Airport.

“The location is well-suited for a hotel, as it is directly across from and easily accessible to the Jamaica transit systems," Viral Patel, CEO of Able Hotels, a group that is seeking to build the hotel, said in a statement.

The project, at 93-43 Sutphin Blvd., requires the MTA’s approval because the MTA owns about a third of the site. The rest of the quarter-acre lot is owned by the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a local nonprofit development group.

If the project is approved, Able Hotels has agreed to buy the entire property for $4.5 million, according to Greater Jamaica.

Greater Jamaica’s president, Carlisle Towery, called the project “a major step in … enhancing downtown Jamaica’s unique potential for transit-oriented development.”

He also said that this is “the first private investment in that area,” following a string of public investments that transformed the hub, including the opening of JFK’s AirTrain in 2003, which began to promote change in the neighborhood.  "Hopefully, it will catalyze other private investments,” Towery said.

Greater Jamaica, working with the MTA and the Port Authority, spent 10 years on “pre-development steps” in the area, Towery said, including the reconstruction of the Sutphin Underpass, adjacent to the transportation hub, connecting passengers to the LIRR, the E, J, and Z trains as well as the AirTrain.

A number of new hotels have recently opened for travelers in the area, including a Ramada on Hillside Avenue, a Sleep Inn on Liberty Avenue and a Quality Inn on 94th Avenue.

Another hotel, Four Points by Sheraton, is planned for 94th Avenue, near 147th Street, only one block away from the AirTrain station.

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