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College Pt. shops opening amid civic concerns

Raymond Chan stands on the terrace topping the mixed-use building in College Point that is set to open in the fall. Photo by Joe Anuta
TimesLedger Newspapers

The Point 128 hotel and mixed-use complex in College Point, formerly known as the Gelmart building, is nearly open for business, although some civic leaders are worried an impending glut of traffic could come along with it.

The complex sits on 20th Avenue between 127th and 128th streets and boasts a wide range of amenities: a 114-room hotel, full-service supermarket, 300-seat seafood and sushi buffet, indoor swimming pool, gym, karaoke establishment and rooftop terrace — all of which the team at Point 128 believes will be a boon to the area once the staggered openings are complete in September.

“I think it’s going to do wonders for the neighborhood,” said Peter Reyes, general manager of the Hotel de Point.

Reyes and the lead architect, Raymond Chan, envision the 147,000 square-foot complex, a $7 million undertaking, as a one-stop shopping destination for resident and hotel guests.

Aside from the major attractions, the basement of the refurbished building, which used to house a rubber and bra factory, will have a laundromat, possibly a bank and several small restaurants that can be used by workers in the area eager for a decent lunch.

The hotel is extremely high-tech and environmentally friendly, according to Reyes, as well as visually sleek and modern.

The chic design is a common theme throughout the building, including the rooftop terrace boasting unadulterated skyline views of Manhattan to one side and the Bronx-Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges to the other.

But according to Andrew Rocco, of the College Point Taxpayers Civic Association, those choice views come at a price.

“We can’t handle a massive development like that,” Rocco said. “We are a small, residential community, and people moved here for that reason.”

Rocco contends traffic on the perpetually clogged 20th Avenue — one of only four roads that cross the Whitestone Expressway and lead into the isolated neighborhood — is only going to get worse. Rocco questioned how 127th Street, which is where the complex’s parking lot is accessed, can accommodate ingress and egress when it is so narrow that city buses take up the majority of the street as they run their route.

But state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who once opposed the development and even sought to have the former factory landmarked, said Chan has been working with his office to try and minimize the impacts of the development.

“He’s willing to address the issues,” Avella said, citing the fact that Chan nixed the idea of another upscale restaurant in the building and is going to widen 127th Street by several feet at his own expense, with the blessing of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the city Department of Transportation.

Chan also contended that the uses at Point 128 will be staggered — for example the hotel and karaoke club will be used mainly at night while the restaurant, supermarket, swimming pool and gym will be used during the day — so that there will not be a rush of traffic at any one time.

William Woo, vice president of Kam Man Foods, is heading up the Chinese grocery store that will go on the first floor.

He is going through pains to ensure the sharp-looking emporium will be more inviting to non-Chinese speakers than other outlets in Flushing.

“We want the second generation, we want the first generation and we want people who are just interested in Chinese food,” said Woo.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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Reader Feedback

Ken Atkinson from College Point says:
As a resident of the neighborhood,I'm cautiously optimistic at this point based on what I've seen and heard. I'm hoping that in a somewhat similar manner to another recent addition, Little Pepper, that they are "local-friendly" in a way that most of Main St. isn't. Hopefully,I'll be able to enjoy a bit of "exotic" shopping close to home and bring my purchases home by bike. Nice ro see the old Kleinert factory get a new life.
Aug. 4, 2012, 3:22 pm
Richard Erdey from College point says:
I feel sorry for the three pvt. Homes next to the dump. Who would put a hotel here? What views? My belief the hotel will be cheap enough for anyone who wants to get a quickie and what type of people does that bring? As I was quoted before in this paper when I made awareness to this project. Between the NYPD setting their home on two entrances and exits in College Point and this dump taking 20th. Good luck on 14th Ave.
Aug. 9, 2012, 2:47 pm
Barbara Guitz from College Point says:
The location seems transformed with new life. Nice landscaping and meticulously neat looking property, it's so much better than the dilapidated building and concrete walls on the ignored and desolated space it used to be.

Now, everytime I pass by on the Q25, I'm curious to want to stop and shop. I hope there's hotel amenities (pool) that will be open to the public for use.
Sept. 26, 2012, 10:12 am
Cleo from College Point says:
Kam Man was my first supermarket - the Canal Street one. The workers were all lovely and the products were always good quality and the store always clean and not smelly. I still have the wooden baby chair from China that was purchased from Kam Man's basement. My mother just visited Kam Man in College Point and came home with a glowing face. Kam San while nice on Kissena Boulevard just didn't compare to Kam Man in the old days and for Kam Man to open in College Point of all places is so wonderful for my family and the other Toisanese on my block who retired from factory work in Chinatown and have to rely on stores in Main Street that aren't the same.

This actually makes us reluctant to move out of College Point.

Thank you so much for taking this business risk and opening in College Point.
Oct. 5, 2012, 7:18 pm
Cleo from College Point says:
I also was impressed by Little Pepper. The cook is so authentic that I have NEVER experienced this kind of taste outside of China - not even in Hong Kong. It was sophistication and intelligence and thoughtfulness packed into COOKING. Little Pepper is awesome but I feel guilty about calling for a delivery.
Oct. 5, 2012, 7:20 pm
Cleo from College Point says:
There really aren't many places in College Point to be loyal to. I remember in the 70s and 80s when my mother preferred to do all her shopping at Milk Barn. Remember that place? The couple who owned it were so nice that we didn't even want to go to Pathmark. Times have really changed but there was nothing that couldn't be trusted at Milk Barn. The same is true with my experience at the original Kam Man on Canal Street. I have high hopes for this new branch.
Oct. 5, 2012, 7:46 pm

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