South Bronx, say hello to business travelers and tourists. Say hello to continental breakfast. Say hello to a legitimate hotel for the first time in 40 years. In February, Jiten Hotel Management bought an abandoned gas station for $4,500,000. The Massachusetts firm plans to build a six-story Fairfield Inn by Marriott on 3rd Avenue between E. 135th and E. 136th streets.
“It will be upscale,” said Jiten president Nayan Patel. “Close to the highway, close to Manhattan, close to Yankee Stadium.”
Jiten has applied for a state-administered Brownfield Cleanup at 2477 3rd Avenue. According to Patel, Jiten earned former borough president Adolfo Carrion Jr.’s blessing months ago. The hotel will boast 124 rooms and a terrace garden, but no pool and no restaurant.
“We’ve been in talks with the borough president and others in the community,” Patel said. “People are going to love the hotel. It will clean up the neighborhood. It will help the neighborhood shops and restaurants.”
The borough president’s planner Wilhelm Ronda knew of the hotel plan, but has yet to receive a formal presentation from Jiten. According to Ronda, the borough president’s office generally supports the construction of a 3rd Avenue hotel. Neither Community Board 1 chair George Rodriguez nor district manager Cedric Loftin were pleased with the plan.
“[Patel] didn’t touch base with me,” Rodriguez said. “He didn’t meet with me.”
Rodriguez is in favor of a 3rd Avenue hotel; he has supported the construction of a hotel at E. 132nd Street and Lincoln Avenue, a vacant property on the Harlem River. Rodriguez and Patel agree: the south Bronx could use a major hotel. For decades, baseball pros and statesmen like Babe Ruth and Harry Truman patronized the Concourse Plaza Hotel at E. 161st Street. The building, a victim of the harsh 1970s, is now a senior residence.
“If it’s a Fairfield Inn, we want a Fairfield Inn like the one on 40th Street in Manhattan – a four star hotel,” Rodriguez said. “We don’t want a motel.”
The abandoned gas station sits beside the Major Deegan Expressway, near the Madison Avenue, Third Avenue and Willis Avenue bridges. The neighborhood is set for a rezoning over the next several years; under the proposed Lower Concourse plan, the property would belong to a mixed-use manufacturing and residential district. The rezoning won’t affect Jiten’s scheme. Hotels are permissible in the existing manufacturing zone and would be in the mixed-use district.
A handful of developers have approached CB 1 regarding the 133,000-square foot Lincoln Avenue property. So far, none have moved to buy it and build a hotel.
“I’m not against a hotel,” Rodriguez said. “But people from the community should be involved, those of us who didn’t walk away when the Bronx was burning.”
Patel hopes to begin construction early next year. The hotel could open in 2011. The firm has built a number of hotels in New England, and operates a Fairfield Inn at JFK.