Convention center headed for Queens

 A development group plans to build a $  200 million convention center, hotel, apartments and retail on the site of a car dealership in Corona

Fleet Architects, LLP

A development group plans to build a $ 200 million convention center, hotel, apartments and retail on the site of a car dealership in Corona.

A spacious convention center and 25-story hotel and apartment complex will soon rise on the site of a Corona car dealership near Citi Field.

Fleet Financial Group plans to break ground on the $ 200 million project in June. The Flushing-based group purchased the 1.67-acre DiBlasi Ford dealership, at 112-21 Northern Blvd., for $ 17 million last month.

The site sits across the Grand Central Parkway from Citi Field, where a $ 3 billion mega-mall and housing complex is planned for Willets Point.

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“For the longest time, Queens has wanted to have some sort of facility like a Javits Center,” said Fleet president Richard Xia, who chose the location for its close proximity to the airports. “It’s going to be great for the area.”

The group plans to build 292 five-star hotel rooms and 236 apartments above the roughly 106,000-square-foot convention center. The project will also include about 97,000 square feet of retail space, a restaurant and parking.

Xia is also in talks with Audi to put a showroom on the site.

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The development, and in particular the conference center, should be a boon for the borough, said Queens Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Seth Bornstein.

“We really lack quality convention space,” said Bornstein, who added the project will bring jobs and an influx of business travelers to Queens. “It’s a good location for a good development,” he noted.

And the up-and-coming area can support the project, said real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller.

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The East River site is just across the parkway from Citi Field, the USTA’s tennis center and the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

“The area is under-utilized now,” Miller said. The project “makes sense. . . . You’ve already had large-scale development come in.”

But not everyone is a fan of all of the mega-development.

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“That particular site is an area that has perpetual traffic problems and is undeserved by mass transit,” said local activist Donovan Finn. “With so much going on in downtown Flushing and Willets (Point), I don’t know if the market can support it all.”

The predominantly low- and middle-income, immigrant neighborhood could be better served by more schools and affordable housing, he said.

“There’s a lot of things this community needs and is crying out for,” Finn said. “A convention center is not one of them.”

ctrapasso@nydailynews.com


Lifestyle – NY Daily News

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