The man who wants to open a new spa in the College Point Corporate Park got the backing of state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) last week, and the lawmaker questioned why the proposal was ever denied by both Community Board 7 and the borough president in the first place.
“I thought it was a good idea to begin with, and now having met with you and seeing the plans I still think it’s a good idea,” Avella said, speaking at a sit-down with property owner Kwang Nam Park and representatives from the Korean community. “I do not agree with the community board’s report nor do I agree with the borough president’s report.”
The meeting took place last Thursday at 131-23 31st Ave., currently a two-story warehouse and office space the owner would like to see turned into New York Spa of College Point.
But his quest to obtain a special permit from the city has run into double trouble.
As part of the application process, the community board and the borough president must both make recommendations on the matter before the city Board of Standards and Appeals makes the final call.
In October, the board voted against the proposal because it foresaw difficulties reinforcing the structure of the building. The ground in College Point is soft and extra pilings would be needed to accommodate the second-floor pools of the spa, the board said.
It also cited Park’s lack of experience as reason to vote against the measure.
Last month, Borough President Helen Marshall also recommended that the application should be denied, citing parking issues.
But Avella said recommending to deny the spa’s application after approving another gigantic development nearby makes no sense.
In 2009, the borough president and community board voted to approve plans for a $1 billion NYPD cadet training facility, which will sit on 35 acres of land and house 2,000 parking spaces when complete.
“I don’t see how the borough president could approve something like that and not approve a small business like you,” he said to the group. “I think BSA will approve this.”
The team behind the spa were also a little shocked as well, according to Irwin Park, whose father owns the property.
“We were surprised,” Park said, citing a vote by a committee of the board that recommended to approve the plans..
The College Point Corporate Park Task Force is a subset of the community board and its vote does will factor into the BSA decision. But it voted 8-1 in favor of the project before the board voted to deny by a vote of 25-5.
“It was a dramatic reversal,” Park said.
The team has worked to correct some of the objections raised by the board and Marshall by hiring outside consultants to look at structural pilings and valet parking.
In response to another concern by the board, Park said his father might not have experience running a spa, but he has operated other small businesses in addition to the Kew Motor Inn, a motel that charges by the hour in Flushing.
Starting in the early 1980s, his father ran apartment buildings in Manhattan before starting a successful bagel factory toward the end of the decade. After that he operated a chain of Dunkin’ Donuts stores around the borough.
“He has a lot of different small business experience,” Park said. “He did anything he that thought was a good idea and involved hard work and some investment capital.”
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.