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Queens Chronicle

More hotels set for Fresh Meadows

Work expected to begin soon on two buildings off expressway

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Posted: Thursday, February 6, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 1:47 am, Thu Feb 13, 2014.

A housing development and hotel complex project in Fresh Meadows are chugging along, despite complaints from area residents.

Eighteen two-family houses were completed two years ago, but the developer, George Xu, was unable to obtain certificates of occupancy and they remain empty. The project’s address is 183-15 Horace Harding Expressway, with the residences located in the rear and side on 183rd Street and Booth Memorial Avenue.

One problem included driveways so steep that the grades were raised, which eliminated the garages. There is not enough space now for cars, and neighbors fear a third apartment will be put in the basements since a window was added where the garage door was supposed to be.

Xu and his brother, Chris, who head Century Construction Group Corp., have said they wouldn’t start building the two hotels facing the expressway until the houses are complete.

According to Susan Seinfeld, district manager of Community Board 11, Xu met on-site with her and residents in August, but complaints continue. He obtained the CO for the houses in November, although it’s not believed anyone has moved in yet.

Calls to Xu were not returned.

Now, the developer has posted a sign on the graffitied plywood fence in front of the project that indicates work will begin soon on the hotels, with a completion date of 2017 listed. The two six-story Marriott facilities will be a Courtyard and a Fairfield Inn with 146 rooms each.

They will be built side by side because of space limitations with underground parking. Booth Memorial will be the only access to the hotels and neighbors fear added congestion on the thoroughfare and area streets.

The developer got permits to begin construction last August and they expire in July.

Meanwhile, a large gaping hole that attracts vermin and rainwater remains. It was dug so that the project could be grandfathered in prior to a downzoning of the area.

Jim Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, is concerned about the number of hotels planned for the area. On the south side of the expressway, another developer is erecting an 11-story hotel with 147 rooms on 186th Street set for completion next year.

With all the hotel rooms and new housing, Gallagher said, “This area in Fresh Meadows will become very congested in just a few years.”

Christine Haider, the first vice chairwoman of CB 11 and a neighborhood resident, said she, the community board and neighbors have still received no relief from the Xu development. Haider added that there are still many violations and dangerous conditions and “we cannot get enforcement from any NYC agency.”

There are three Department of Building violations, including one for an unsafe building and one ECB violation for not maintaining the construction fence.

The 1.6-acre site formerly housed a strip mall, including a Cineplex, and was demolished in 2005 under the state’s voluntary Brownfield cleanup program due to chemical solvents in the ground from a former dry cleaner.

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