MTA Could Lend A Hand To West Hempstead

If anyone has been to West Hempstead lately, you will know of a particular building that is seen as the worst eyesore ever to its residents. The building is known as the Courtesy Hotel, a not so hot spot known for being a hotbed for crime & drugs. Community leaders & residents have been trying their hardest to get this building torn down but one thing after another has delayed it from happening.

Now, news has come out that of all people, the MTA could possibly help speed up the process due to a 1 acre parcel they own next to the Courtesy Hotel. Eden Laikin of Newsday has the story:

An MTA-owned 1-acre parcel next to the controversial Courtesy Hotel in West Hempstead – a site residents have called a hotbed of drugs and crime – appears to offer a solution to the nearly decade-long impasse that has prevented tearing the hotel down.

That parcel, when added to a developer’s proposal to build 176 units of housing on the 2.7-acre site, would reduce housing density to a potentially acceptable level, people close to the negotiations said.

The sliver of vacant land between the hotel and the West Hempstead train station would bring the proposal closer to the Town of Hempstead’s plan to redevelop a larger area that includes the hotel.

The proposal by developer Trammell Crow Residential calls for 65 units per acre, triple what the town’s zoning allows in most areas. Adding the MTA parcel would reduce density to 45 units per acre, a density allowed in designated areas of the town – and the same density proposed in the town’s plan for the 10 acres surrounding the hotel.

The MTA land is used to support “railroad activities,” according to LIRR officials.

LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone confirmed that the railroad has had “preliminary discussions” with the town. “The LIRR is very interested in supporting transit-oriented development in the town,” he said.

Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said she’ll “continue to explore every option possible to resolve the problems presented by the hotel.”

Town officials said they had met with Trammell Crow representatives about the MTA property and that if negotiations are successful, the plan would be presented to the town board at a public hearing.

While those negotiations proceed, the town is moving forward with its Urban Renewal plan. Board members are expected to vote today whether to authorize a lawsuit seeking to condemn the hotel property and take it through eminent domain, then offer it to developers.

The hotel’s owners, who have been in contract with Trammell Crow for a private sale for between $11 million and $13 million, have said they would fight condemnation.

Police reports show dozens of calls to the hotel each month.

Trammell Crow representative Maria Rigopoulos said the company “remains hopeful that we can come to some kind of compromise. With the cost of gas, why aren’t you putting as many apartments next to the train station as possible?”

Lets hope the MTA can somehow help speed up the process of tearing down this hotel. I have a few friends who live in West Hempstead & they have shared a number of horror stories about events that have taken place in & around the hotel. When people are afraid to directly walk by the property, you know something bad must be going on!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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2 questions:

If there are so many problems at the hotel, why doesn’t the town or county just revoke its operating permit?

And why are Long Island communities still so opposed to apartment buildings near train stations? Most American suburbs have areas with apartment buildings, but Long Island has very few. If the smallest property a young family can buy is a 3 bedroom house on a quarter acre lot, it’s no wonder people are being priced out of the region.

Hello Bob,

Let me first apologize for not responding sooner. As far as your questions are concerned:

1. From what I understand the usual acts of politics have been the reason for the hotel not closing. The owners of the hotel agreed to sell the land to a developer who had a stipulation. The developer wanted the town to change the zoning to accommodate a high-density apartment complex. However the town ended up proposing an urban renewal plan which has caused controversy amongst many. So the situation is still in limbo.

There is a blog dedicated to this issue which you can view by visiting Close The Courtesy Hotel

2. Long Island residents have a complex that apartment buildings equal a lower quality of life due to the supposed types of people would flock to them. This of course is an ass backwards mentality but that is to be expected from Long Island at time. Just look at how NIMBY’s try to ruin any sort of positive expansion to the Long Island Rail Road infrastructure.

You are correct in wondering why people are being priced out. It is as if you are not a family, you are not welcome out here.

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