De Blasio fundraiser met with city officials seeking rezoning in Queens: report

Sm-Ali “Alex” Amanollahi reportedly wanted to build a hotel in East Elmhurst
January 24, 2017 01:25PM

23-04 94th Street in East Elmhurst

A beauty supplies business owner who donated to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign met with city officials about rezoning his Queens property to make way for a hotel, DNAinfo reported, citing sources.

Sm-Ali “Alex” Amanollahi met with the officials in 2015 and 2016, according to the website, asking for help with rezoning the site at 23-04 94th Street in East Elmhurst. His plan was to build a hotel for travelers arriving at LaGuardia Airport. The talks included a meeting with deputy mayor Alicia Glen’s then-chief of staff James Patchett and one of her senior advisers, Steven Caputo, the sources said. Both Caputo and Patchett — who is now head of the city’s Economic Development Corporation — told DNAinfo that they have no record or recollection of meeting with Amanollahi, who was reportedly using the name Alex Amano.

Officials told Amanollahi to go through the public rezoning process, which means obtaining support from the local community board and local City Council member, sources told DNAInfo. Ultimately, he decided not to move ahead with the rezoning because of the costs involved.

Amanollahi, along with his friends, family and employees gave at least $55,000 to the de Blasio campaign, DNAInfo reported. He also co-hosted a fundraiser in October 2013 under the name Alex Amano, sources told the website. Following a federal probe, de Blasio returned $37,150 in donations to Amanollahi, his employees and associates last October.

Along with his beauty products business, Amanollahi owns the nightclub Amadeus in Queens and is the co-owner of the Jue Lan Club, which are Chinese restaurants in the Flatiron District and Southampton. [DNAinfo]Miriam Hall