With construction moving along on a new Days Inn in Castle Hill, local residents are concerned about the motel being so close to their homes – in one case, right next door.
Lingering concerns expressed by a newly formed group about problems that other motel sites havepresented, including loitering and prostitution, have come to the forefront as the developer has begun work on the project. The franchisee expects to have the Days Inn franchise signed by September 2015.
The community group, calling themselves the Castle Hill Neighborhood Betterment Association (CNBA), held a town-hall style meeting at Holy Family Church on Saturday, September 13 to gather feedback, and review possible building-code violations in the plans for the new structure, according to attendees.
They have also reached out to elected officials, including Senator Jeff Klein and Councilwoman Annabel Palma, who have expressed concern about the project.
“At last Saturday’s meeting, which I attended, serious concern was expressed over the development of a Days Inn motel that would provide day rates, essentially creating the potential for a hot sheet motel at 2338 Bruckner Boulevard,” said Senator Klein. “We know from multiple instances of previous experience that these types of establishments breed not only illegal activity. but become headaches for otherwise strong communities. I stand 100% with the residents of Castle Hill to stop it from happening,”
Councilwoman Annabel Palma’s chief of staff, Mariela Salazar, said that the main concerns remained the same after the meeting, and that they would try to work with the developer and the franchiser, Days Inn, to address community concern.
“From the meeting on Saturday, the community has been very clear that they do not want the Days Inn in their community,” she said, adding those attending the meeting were adamantly opposed.
She said that one of the CNBA board members apparently is an architect and that the group looked at specific parts of the plan that they feel should not have been approved by the Department of Buildings.
“They were really organized and well prepared,” she said. “Our office is waiting for them to send us those points from the presentation so that we can reach out to the appropriate agencies and find out what is going on.”
One of the unfortunate aspects of the motel from the CNBA perspective, according to sources, is it is an as-of-right project, meaning that it is allowed under the current zoning.
Sylvia Rodriguez, a CNBA member who reached out to the Bronx Times, said that she was also concerned that the new motel, which sits on Bruckner Expressway’s eastbound service road just blocks from the Capri Whitestone Motel in Ferry Point, could be turned into a homeless shelter as happened at the Capri.
The developer, Manny Kumar, 42, said that he has no plans to turn the 60-unit hotel into a homeless shelter or charge hourly rates for rooms. He also called it a “hotel,” however, the activists continued to refer to it as a “motel.”
He said that the new motel will have amenities, including a business center, meeting space, rooftop bar and terrace, cigar lounge, laundry room and sundry room.
He feels that people looking to visit Manhattan but in need of a cheaper room would use his Days Inn. which is just three express train stops from 59th Street on the Lexington Avenue Number 6 IRT line.
“The concern should be none,” said Kumar. “We are positive that this hotel will do great. This won’t be an eyesore to the neighborhood, this will appreciate property values.”