Aug. 1, 2017 By Jason Cohen
A developer who is looking to build a seven-story hotel in Jackson Heights should not be permitted to build it, according to Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights), because he was caught trying to bribe an elected official in order to win a city contract in 2012.
In July, developer Mohammad Aziz, filed plans with the Department of Buildings to construct a seven-story, 22-room residential hotel at 37-38 73rd Street in Jackson Heights.
The site is currently home to a two-story commercial building, owned by Aziz’s company Faisal Development LLC.
However, Moya said the city shouldn’t approve his plans, arguing it would be rewarding his history of corruption.
An investigation launched in 2012 determined that Aziz attempted to bribe a former council woman, Darlene Mealy, with $5,000 in exchange for getting a contract through the Department of Housing Preservation & Development. Aziz pleaded guilty after he was caught on tape in handing the cash to a cooperating witness.
Aziz paid a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor, and subsequently lost contracts with the city after being charged. Aside from the 5,000 he was caught offering, he had been a major donor to political campaigns, donating thousands under his own name and his corporation Delight Construction.
“We do not repair New York’s image as a swamp of political corruption by welcoming the same criminals to return back into the community to continue their business as usual,” Moya said. “Allowing Aziz to develop in our community sends a signal that his criminal behavior is acceptable.”
Aziz plans to open the hotel in 2019. It would consist of five rooms per floor–from the third through sixth floors–and two rooms on the seventh.
The first floor would be the lobby area and there would be a community facility on the second floor. There would also be an outdoor recreation area on the roof.
State Sen. Jose Peralta announced last week that he was concerned about the development based on the lack of infrastructure in the neighborhood.
“Plans to construct a hotel on a small lot located in a very congested area of Jackson Heights has one too many unanswered questions, especially since the developer is describing the project as a residential hotel. Since the area already has limited public services available, bringing more people into the community will put an extra burden on these limited resources,” Peralta said.