Friday, March 30, 2007

Group gives thumbs down to Forest Hills hotel

From the Queens Chronicle:

Dear Editor:

The residents at Lane Towers have recently become aware of the proposed hotel development at 70th Road and Austin Street as revealed on the front page of the Feb. 15 Queens Chronicle.

We urge Community Board 6 to reject this outlandish attempt to build a structure that is wholly unsuited for our block and neighborhood. The proposed area of construction is an increasingly heavily traveled and over-congested portion of Austin Street and 70th Road. Currently, the residents struggle to find parking and even getting out of the local garages is a terrific challenge.

This hotel will do nothing but make a difficult situation fabulously worse, impacting the daily lives of the people who live in the area. The local residents gain nothing from this ill-conceived idea, except more noise, more traffic, more pollution, less parking and a general lowering of the quality of life.

The innate character and value that is unique to Forest Hills will be decimated, as this hotel will obliterate one of the key benefits of living in Forest Hills — a nice neighborhood close to Manhattan without the obvious disadvantage of being in Manhattan.

The residents who move into the apartments and houses of Forest Hills do so because they do not want to live in Manhattan. This benefit is precisely what would be negated by the developer’s self-proclaimed intent of turning Forest Hills into a “mini Manhattan.” We don’t want to live in “mini Manhattan.”

The developer, Heskel Elias, has stated he will not build the hotel if he does not get the variance necessary to construct such an oversized, garish and out-of-character building in the neighborhood. For the benefit of the residents of Forest Hills, the residents of Lane Towers urge you not to approve such a variance.

Simha Chandran, president
Lane Towers — Board of Directors
Forest Hills

24 comments:

Queens Crapper said...

I'm sure FH Guy will complain that Lane Towers is not the real Forest Hills, that he and his buddies are "pioneers" for discovering this neighborhood that has been a vibrant place for many, many years, and that people who live in towers shouldn't complain about more towers in their neighborhood.

How did Queens ever survive before the infusion of up-and-coming yuppies who can't yet afford Manhattan?

Jon Parker said...

I think you're right. People who live in high-rises have no right to complain about more high-rises going up. The same thing happened on the Uppwer West Side of Manhattan when Trump wanted to build a tower on the waterfront. I may think Trump is the bane of the city, but the reason that he was opposed was because the other residents didn't want to lose their view. That's not really a good enough reason to keep other people from having a home. Anyway, I've mentioned this in the past here, but the Lane Towers people are complaining about traffic from a building that will generate a negligible amount of it. People coming to tour in NYC simply don't rent cars to get around. They use public transportation like everyone else. People must be adaptable. I'm sorry, but when you live in the largest city in America and one of the fastest growing, at that, traffic is simply a way of life. Regardless of what people may fantasize about, Forest Hills is not a suburb.

Anonymous said...

People coming to tour in NYC simply don't rent cars to get around. They use public transportation like everyone else.

Why do they have so many rental places at the airports then?

Jon Parker said...

Well, for starters, every airport in the country has rental offices regardless of its size. If been to teeny regional ones that do. Secondly, the NY metro area is home to three large airports. Anyone visiting relatives or friends in Westchester/downstate NY, Connecticut, Jersey, or northern Pennsylvania is likely to fly into one of them and since they'll need a car eventually to get to that persons' house, they'll just rent one imediately and drive rather than pay extra for a short-hop connecting flight and then pay for the rental anyway. They almost always come with unlimited milage. But these folks aren't touring NYC. They're passing through. And I promise that if they decide to stay in the city for a few days, they leave the rental car in a garage.

Anonymous said...

I lead tours of the city, and I can tell you that many tourists, especially foreign ones, rent cars. Especially vroom-vroom sportscars. It's now chic to visit sites outside of Manhattan, and the dollar is so lame compared to their currency that they gladly pay the rental prices to avoid having to take mass transit and popping up in the middle of god-knows-where. They also rent these GPS things to help them find where they want to go. Garage fees to them are like meter fees to us. I can see them renting cars and parking them at this hotel or on the street. A person visiting Westchester, PA or NJ is not renting a car to drive home from LaGuardia or JFK and paying $200/day for the privilege of doing so. They have airports there too, and the car rates are much cheaper. Or more likely - their friends & relatives pick them up from the airport!

Jon Parker said...

I don't know what kind of luxury car you have to rent to spend $200 per day on a rental car, but these big spenders are not demonstrative of the average NYC tourist, many of whom are Americans for whom the dollar is the dollar. I rented a Monte Carlo for four days (2 weekend days) in LA and it cost $150 for the whole thing. Also, when friends have weddings an hour from an airport, they don't pick all of the guests up. We have to rent a car. And it's not worth the extra time and money flying to the small airport that may be closer. I don't doubt that there are some tourists who drive everywhere, but we can't base a discussion about development on the actions of a minority of travellers.

Anonymous said...

Enterprise rent-a-car for Memorial Day weekend:

Standard car:

3 Days @ Daily $ 88.95 USD = $ 266.85 USD

UNDER AGE 21-24 DRIVER FEE = $ 76.50 USD

Subtotal $ 343.35 USD

AIRPORT ACCESS FEE = $ 31.87 USD
SALES TAX = $ 50.18 USD

*Total Estimated Charges = $ 425.40 USD

Nope, locals aren't renting at the airport.

potsdam said...

Funny how the hotel's design draws from the low rise structures it seeks to encroach upon.

While I'm not totally against the idea of a moderate sized hotel structure, the current traffic in the surrounding area really needs to be considered. One hotel may not matter much, but add Windsor2 and other nearby developments, it may start to get.....difficult.


"Forest Hills is not a suburb."

Forest Hills doesn't seem much like a sprawling urban metropolis either. But if that's what you like, you'd better fix the traffic situation first.

Jon Parker said...

Potsdam, with all due respect, Forest Hills is pretty urban. Maybe not urban like Midtown, but about 2 or 3 blocks north or south or QB is all dense apartment buildings like one would see in northern Manhattan. Really, the smaller houses don't begin until you are within walking distance of the GCP or in and around the Gardens. Even along Yellowstone Blvd all the way down to Metropolitan is almost all apartment building co-ops of varying sizes. I think that the area will be able to handle the traffic, in all honesty.

The real issue for me is whether the building's ugly ot not. And it is. My letter to the poo-bahs in charge would request not that the hotel idea be scrapped, but that a nicer building be chosen. The tudor style doesn't work on that side of the track, or on that side of 71st Street. Maybe it'll look better in real-life, but that picture makes the design look awful.

FH Guy said...

QC, for someone who told me I should never read your blog again just a few weeks ago, you sure seem interested in what I think about this post. Maybe you secretly like having someone who actually has a different point of view reading and commenting on your blog. Maybe there still is some hope for some real discussion on this blog instead of what happens here most of the time: you preaching to the choir.

So since you're looking for my opinion, here it is. It is completely ridiculous for residents of Lane Towers (a 20+ story high-rise) to complain about the development of a hotel that is planned to be 15 stories tall. These people have the nerve to call the hotel an "oversized, garish and out-of-character building" when they live in a building that is 5 stories taller and is 2 blocks away? And if they are worried about traffic and parking, they should take the subway--Lane Towers is literally 20 steps from the 71st/Continental subway station.

Also, as I've said before, the area where this hotel is proposed is not a low-rise, single-family area. It is a commercial district surrounded by high-rise buildings (including Lane Towers, Gerard Towers and the Windsor).

If these are the only people you can find to oppose the hotel, then it's pretty much a sure thing that the hotel will be built. Maybe some day QC will stay there for a night and learn to appreciate the finer things in life.

FH Guy said...

Not publishing my comments is not going to make me go away.

I guess it's too much to expect for you to show some fairness. You get to refer to me by name and say what I think (most of it untrue, by the way) and I don't get any chance to respond. It's your readers who lose out because all they get is the same point of view over and over again.

I still hope see you staying in the new hotel some day. It will give you a nice break from your computer--getting out a little bit might do you good.

Queens Crapper said...

Looks like I published your comment.

It is you who give the same point of view over and over again. We get it, you like tall buildings in Forest Hills. Hallelujah.

I post pictures from all over Queens on my site, most of which I take myself. So I must get out a lot, but thanks for being concerned about my health. It's quite touching.

Anonymous said...

People who live 2 blocks from a planned hotel would be the appropriate people to comment on the proposed development, as per FH Guy's reasoning. It just bugs him that they do not agree with him. So he has to resort to childish "you need to get out more" insults.

Anonymous said...

OK, lets start at the top (take a deep breath)

where are the poltiicians?
where is the community board?
where are the newspapers editorialing against this?

FH Guy said...

"It is you who give the same point of view over and over again. We get it, you like tall buildings in Forest Hills. Hallelujah."

Why, QC, do you always have to misrepresent what I say in order to make your point? My point of view has nothing to do with liking tall buildings in FH. My point of view is that being reflexively against all new residential development in Queens is wrong and in the long run is damaging to the communities that you and your supporters say you want to protect.

Some development is good for communities and some is bad for communities. This issue is not black and white. Like I've said before, you have to look at the details of the neighborhood, the site, the existing buildings, and the planned development to determine whether a specific development is good or bad.

And yes, the residents of the immediate area should be the ones who have the most say in either supporting or opposing a new development. In this case with the proposed hotel, I never said that the residents of Lane Towers are not entitled to voice their opinion. I just think their opinion is hypocritical given the area where they live and the type of building they live in.

Queens Crapper said...

FH Guy, would you like a weekly post on QC? I am serious. If you send in something once a week, say, every Friday, I'll post it and leave it open to comments - and none of them will be from me.

FH Guy said...

QC, I'm touched.

After all of your attacks on me, now you want to be friends. Why would you do this when just a few weeks ago you called me a "lost cause" and "lame" for wanting you to represent some alternative points of view?

Anonymous said...

FH Guy must have an identity problem or such.

What a grinding boring use of logic and over-kill comments.

He (or she) is either Heskel's PR person or doesn't have a life .....too obsesive!

True, Forest Hills is already "urbanized" and high rise (with some exceptions) but this new hotel is embarrasingly tacky, Disneyesque and plain butt-ugly. It will cause increased traffic congestion. And....who the hell stays in a Queens hotel (in the middle of nowhere) when there are still plenty of great rates to be had in Manhatttan.....smack in the middle of the tourist corridor!

FH Guy said...

"This new hotel is embarrasingly tacky, Disneyesque and plain butt-ugly. It will cause increased traffic congestion. And....who the hell stays in a Queens hotel (in the middle of nowhere) when there are still plenty of great rates to be had in Manhatttan."

Who gets to decide whether the hotel is ugly or not? This is a very subjective thing. Based on the rendering in the Chronicle, I think the hotel has a very nice, tasteful design. Certainly it looks much better than many of the existing apartment buildings in Queens.

As for the increased traffic, I'm always amazed when people who live or shop in Forest Hills complain about traffic. The Austin Street shopping district is within a few blocks of 5 subway lines and the LIRR. If people are so upset about traffic, they should take public transportation.

As for Forest Hills being "in the middle of nowhere", have you ever been here? As I just mentioned, this hotel would be located within a few blocks of the 71st/Continental subway hub and the LIRR. Hotel guests could be in Manhattan in 20-25 minutes on the subway or in 12-14 minutes on the LIRR. I think plenty of tourists would love to pay half the cost of a Manhattan hotel room to stay in FH and still be a quick subway or LIRR ride from Manhattan. Not to mention how convenient FH is to either LaGuardia or JFK.

FH Guy said...

QC, I'm still curious as to why you offered me a weekly post. It is surprising given our history. What is your rationale for this offer?

Anonymous said...

"Disneyesque" replies to "FH guy":

You talk too much to be a mere resident and thus prove, to all the intelligent QC blog readers, that you are indeed vested in promoting this EYESORE! Do you work for Hesckel?

You are obviously, not an architect (at least not a very good one)!

This will be my last rsponse since that ugly building speaks for itself..... for all "beholders" to see.

10-4! Over & out!

Stone said...

FH guy,

Now, you are the one to give the advice to get out more? I try not to rehash the old Curbed debate, but I see it played out here again.

You criticize, and categorize those who voice a conflicting opinion. You decide what is a "prime" area. You refuse to acknowledge a significant portion of your own neighborhood, so long as it doesn't fit your urbanization agenda. Does this sound like the black, white, or grey thinking that you accuse others of?

The Lane tower people opposing this hotel may not necessarily share the same viewpoints as others who oppose it. I am not convinced the hotel will offer substantial benefits to the community.

To address your question, "Who decides....?" It seemingly is the developer with the most capital and influence that decides for you. Because they are always looking out for your best interests. Do you accept that rationale?

FH Guy said...

"You talk too much to be a mere resident and thus prove, to all the intelligent QC blog readers, that you are indeed vested in promoting this EYESORE! Do you work for Hesckel?"

It's amusing to me that any time someone has an opinion that the regulars on this blog disagree with, they must be working for a developer. This is not intelligence, it is ignorance. I am confident that the majority of the residents in Queens agree with my views of development--some development is good for communities and some is bad. The good development should be encouraged and the bad should be stopped. Do all of these people that agree with me also work for developers?

Julie said...

"It's amusing to me that any time someone has an opinion that the regulars on this blog disagree with, they must be working for a developer."

It's amusing to us that because we don't agree with FH Guy about this hotel, that he assumes it means we are against all development. We also agree that some development is good for communities and some is bad. It's just too bad that most of what is built today is oversized and ugly, like this hotel.