Electeds and concerned Castle Hill citizens lambasted the construction of a motel in their neighborhood.
Celebrating a NYC Department of Building’s Stop Work Order at the Bruckner Boulevard site, on Thursday, October 2, elected officials joined together with the Castle Hill Betterment Association, a group formed to fight the 60-unit Days Inn Motel they believe is really a ‘hot sheet motel’ in the making, sneaking into their community under the guise of economic development.
Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, and Councilwoman Annabel Palma stood with the residents outside of the construction site on the south side of Bruckner Boulevard near Zerega Avenue and called for the developer, identified as Manny Kumar, to work with the community to find a better use for the property.
“I continue to have serious concern over the development of a Days Inn Motel that would probably provide day rates, creating the potential for a ‘hot sheet motel’ at 2338 Bruckner Boulevard,” said Klein. “We know from multiple past experiences that these types of establishments breed not only illicit, but potentially illegal activity and hurt otherwise strong communities. I am pleased that the NYC Department of Buildings has issued this Stop Work Order and is taking the matter under careful review.”
Klein added that based on his experiences living in the Bronx, and after years of seeing motels opening on busy commercial corridors, he has not seen an instance of those motels being anything he considers legitimate.
He said that he doubted this one would be any different. This is compounded by the fact that the development had been in the works for four years, but no one in the community had been notified.
The swift action by the DOB was commended by Sepulveda, who said that “the residents of Castle Hill have shown that they will not let unscrupulous businesses into their neighborhood without having a seat at the table.”
“The apparent cycle of hotels being eventually converted into ‘hot sheet’ motels, in order to remain economically viable, occur all too often in the Bronx,” said Palma. “While the Days Inn is a respectable brand in the hotel industry, the questionable location of this site will easily attract illegal activity due to the lack of appropriate local infrastructure.”
CHNBA member Fernando Penate, an architect for nearly three decades, said that according to his interpretation of the zoning, he believes that the motel needs to be set back from the street further than the plans show.
Klein said that a zoning review raised questions about how the lots were combined at the site.
“If those issues are real, they need to amend their plans and scale back the project to what is allowed,” said Crespo in an interview after the press conference.
Community Board 9 chairman William Rivera said that he doubts that the project will bring positive, community friendly development to the area.
“History has shown in the last 20 years that without a clientele for what they want to do, these projects turn into hot-sheet motels,” he said.
Referring to the developer’s plan to provide bus
service to various attractions around the city, Rivera said that while it is possible, “we have heard this line before – it is a broken record.”
As of press time, the Stop Work Order remained in effect. Penate said that there has been a recent amended filing, but that the group still needs time to review it.