Last month, the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. trumpeted its long-awaited deal with a developer to build a hotel on property it owns across from the Long Island Rail Road’s transit hub on Sutphin Boulevard.
But when Justin Rodgers, director of economic development for the GJDC, made a presentation to Community Board 12 on Oct. 16, it also brought long-established tensions between the two bodies to the surface.
Cardinal Sandiford, chairman of CB 12’s Land Use Committee, was unimpressed with the GJDC giving a presentation to the full board just under a month after making the announcement of a deal for a 24-story, 200-plus-room hotel with Long Island-based Able Hotels.
“We read about it in the papers, but they don’t come here before the Land Use Committee,” Sandiford said. “It’s an attempt to bypass the land use procedures, which they always do.”
Sandiford also believes the name Greater Jamaica is a misnomer, saying the organization is interested only in the commercial corridors like Sutphin Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue.
He also aimed scathing remarks at long-time GJDC President Carlisle Towery before CB 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams cut him off.
“He’s too smart to come before us,” Sandiford said. “He sends someone who looks like us.”
Adams stepped in, saying the presentation was made for the very purpose of keeping the board informed.
“There will be no bypassing of land use procedures,” Adams said. Rodgers did not address Sandiford’s remarks.
The hotel will be built on two parcels of land, one belonging to the GJDC and the other to the LIRR.
Rodgers said construction might not begin until at least late next year while Able negotiates the relocation of an LIRR loading dock and some major electrical infrastructure.