QUEENS — A Flushing-based developer who recently plunked down $22 million in cash to buy the largest property in Downtown Jamaica, is planning to build three Marriott-brand hotels in the area, he said.
Chris Xu, who built several hotels near LaGuardia Airport and in Chinatown, is also bringing apartments and a supermarket to the neighborhood.
Two of new hotels — Courtyard and Fairfield Inn and Suites — would be located in one building planned on Archer Avenue, near 149th Street, Xu, president of the United Construction & Development Group Corp., said.
The 16-story building would contain more than 330 hotel rooms (Courtyard would feature 224 rooms and Fairfield would have 114), he said.
Xu is also planning to build another hotel — SpringHill Suites — on Queens Boulevard, between Jamaica and Hillside avenues, he said.
That building would be six stories high and would feature 160 rooms, he said.
According to documents provided by the Department of Buildings, the plans for the Archer Avenue hotels were approved in August.
The plans for the Queens Boulevard hotel were initially denied in January due to an application that the agency said was incomplete. But the developer can refile the paperwork, according to the DOB.
A Marriott representative confirmed that all three hotels are in development.
Xu said he expects the hotels to be built within three years from the date that the projects obtain the required permits.
The hotels are “going to serve JFK,” said Xu, adding that the neighborhood is only minutes from the airport.
Jamaica has become a major transportation hub since JFK’s AirTrain station opened there in 2003. Since then, a number of hotels have been built in the neighborhood.
Xu already owns two hotels near LaGuardia Airport — the Fairfield Inn on College Point Boulevard, which opened in 2005, and the SpringHill Suites on Northern Boulevard, which began operating in 2012, he said.
In addition to a few dozen condominiums in the Flushing and Corona areas, Xu also owns a Fairfield Inn hotel and a supermarket in Chinatown.
Xu, who came to the United States from China in 1986, has been known for his numerous investments in the Flushing area for more than two decades.
He established his first construction company soon after completing high school, about a year after arriving in the United States, he said.
Ten years later he founded his first real estate firm.
Councilman Peter Koo, who represents Flushing and has known Xu for more than 20 years, described the developer as a hard-working businessman who has brought numerous jobs to the area.
“When you build hotels, you bring prosperity to the community,” Koo said, adding that hotels attract tourists, who spend money in the neighborhood when they “shop for souvenirs, eat at local restaurants and call a taxi.”
Xu said that he is now working on a plan for the property that he recently bought for $22 million on Archer Avenue and Guy Brewer Boulevard.
The property, which consists of two adjacent lots, currently includes several shops and an unused seven-story parking garage.
Xu said he intends to demolish the garage and replace it with market-rate housing that would feature several hundred apartments. He is also planning to replace the existing stores with a supermarket.
He said he decided to invest in Jamaica not only because of the neighborhood's proximity to the airport, but also because investing there is affordable.
"The land over there is cheap," he said, referring to the $30-per-square-foot price tag for the Archer Avenue property.