East End Matters
It has been a month since the first protest against an unwanted ‘transient’ hotel on Beach 44 Street. At that time Community Board 14 chair Delores Orr announced that the developer had agreed to meet with the board’s Land Use Committee, but no date was set. Now after one date was canceled, another has been announced for September 27. It is more than about time. Especially for those who live in the area.
The development site, located on Beach 44 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, is right in the middle of an Urban Renewal Area. The area has been renewed and continues its upswing. But, as an appropriate location for a hotel, it is very questionable. The developer says it is for JFK airline staff and those visiting the area. Let’s take a look at what this would do for those living there.
As we all know hotels are open 24/7. This community would now have the hub-bub of activity that comes with a hotel. Shuttles bringing guests in and out, lights from rooms and the lobby, and unknown numbers of extra people in the neighborhood. Yes, some airline staff may give it a try. But once they see there is nothing to support a hotel in the area, they will probably go back to using others that are closer to the airport. Plus, how many tourists come to visit Edgemere?
Does the developer really believe that a 98-room, sixstory hotel is warranted in the area? What happens if the hotel fails? Does it become a transient hotel with the type of clientele that area residents fear is in the cards?
There are already hotels closer to the airport on Rockaway Turnpike and in Howard Beach. Reportedly, the owner, Amritpal Sandhu, also owns the La Quinta located at 111-26 Van Wyck Expressway – just 2½ miles from JFK Airport. The owner is saying that instead of paying $300 a night, a guest could pay $150 at the Edgemere hotel and hop a train to Manhattan if she or he wishes. The same outcome is true for the Van Wyck hotel. It advertises Brooklyn right next door and Manhattan just 8 miles away. It boasts 62 rooms. The La Quinta in Edgemere would be between 11 and 12 miles from the airport, depending on the route taken; and approximately 22 minutes by car or 37 minutes (with one transfer) by public transportation. From Edgemere it is 51 minutes to 34 Street in Manhattan by train and approximately 15 miles away.
Residents are completely against this hotel. It will take a lot of convincing by Sandhu to get them on his side. But, as Councilman James Sanders Jr. told residents, the law may be on the owner’s side. The site is correctly zoned for a hotel. The Department of Housing & Preservation Development dropped the ball when it failed to buy a parcel of land within the site meant for the Edgemere Urban Renewal Area and instead it was sold to Sandhu.
Compromise may be the order of the day. For instance – build a smaller hotel on the scale of the one on the Van Wyck. The owner should provide something in writing that if the hotel fails to attract the type of guests he is after, that he will not let it become something that will destroy the neighborhood. But like the residents told Sanders, he as a politician is about compromise. They, as homeowners and a community, are about protecting their families and homes. It is about safety and quality of life. We are not talking about a small thing here. We are talking about the quality of life for a group who paid good money for their homes and like the way things have turned out. Just stand on the corner across from the proposed hotel and you will experience a nice quiet street. There is no denying there are still problems; just right now they are heading in the right direction. A six-story hotel in the middle of this is not a good idea.
The announced CB 14 Land Use meeting is scheduled for September 27 at 7 p.m. at the Peninsula Hospital Nursing Home located at 51-15 Beach Channel Drive.