Town Board Snubs West Hempstead; Adopts Urban Renewal Plan Over Community Opposition
Hempstead town board move blocks sale of hotel
BY EDEN LAIKIN
Dozens of West Hempstead residents left yesterday's town board meeting shocked and angry at a decision they say will delay for years the closing of the drug- and crime-ridden Courtesy Hotel.
"When will this end?" civic leader Rosalie Norton asked the board, to thunderous applause from the audience. "This board has subverted what is supposed to be a democracy. The plan is not in the community's best interest."
Town board members voted to adopt an urban renewal plan that would see the redevelopment of 10 acres, including the 2.7-acre Courtesy, after it takes the hotel and adjacent properties through condemnation. The plan includes part of a parking lot across the street owned by National Wholesale Liquidators.
By agreeing to pursue the more time-consuming urban renewal plan, the board essentially blocked a private sale between the hotel owner and a developer that could have shut down the hotel quicker.
Town officials said they considered residents' concerns in reaching its decision.
"We believe this is a more cohesive plan to beautify and revitalize 10 acres as opposed to just focusing on 2.7 acres," said Town Supervisor Kate Murray, a member of the board.
The owners of both the hotel and parking lot have already indicated they would sue the town to block the condemnation. The hotel owners say they have a contract with Texas-based Trammell Crow Residential to buy the hotel for $11 million to $13 million and build a four-story, 176-rental unit complex with underground parking. That would require zoning of 65 units per acre.
Town officials say that proposal is too dense. Their plan seeks 45 units per acre zoning.
Norton said that more than 2,100 residents have signed petitions urging the town board to accept Trammell Crow's plan.
A Trammel Crow representative said they were disappointed with the decision."Our proposal has consistently been the fastest way to rid the community of the woes associated with the Courtesy," said Maria Rigopoulos.
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