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Controversial Mill Basin hotel finally opens • Brooklyn Paper

Controversial Mill Basin hotel finally opens

Sign of rage: Phil Stenzler, left, and Barbara Becker are so upset with the new hotel developement on E. 49th Street in Mill Basin that they made a whole sign about it! Locals fear that the hotel’s developer plans to convert his “Comfort Inn” into a homeless shelter once construction is finished.
Photo by Steve Schnibbe

Checking inn on E. 49th Street!

A controversial hotel on E. 49th Street that local leaders and neighbors feared would become a homeless shelter or an hourly hot-sheet motel finally opened as a Days Inn a few weeks ago, and all appears to be kosher so far, said one woman who lives just a block away and protested the hotel’s construction back in 2015.

“I see people coming and going, in and out. I haven’t heard any complaints,” said a relieved Barbara Becker. “At this point in time, I cannot say there’s anything abnormal going on from the few times I passed by there, and have not heard anything adverse from the neighbors yet.”

Becker and other locals questioned the location of the 46-room lodge, between Avenues N and O, with a Department of Sanitation garage on one side and an auto shop on the other. Many skeptics, including Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Mill Basin), were certain that once it opened the hotel wouldn’t attract overnight guests, but developers insisted the location is perfect since it’s just a short, 11-mile drive from John F. Kennedy International Airport and offers travelers more moderate prices.

Suspicions about the new inn only grew as Mayor DeBlasio came under fire for failing to reduce the number of hotels used as homeless shelters, and as several hotels in Sunset Park became shelters — to the consternation of many nearby residents.

But even now that the hotel is finally open and everything appears to check out, so to speak, Maisel said he’s still concerned for the what the future holds — if the hotel is not able to sustain a profit over the next few years, its owners could still look to partner with an organization to open up a shelter.

“At this point I’m not worried about it happening in the next year or two, I’m worried about three to four years from now,” said Maisel. “It’s just a terrible block to put a hotel on. There’s no parking, it’s a horrible block, you got a sanitation garage and auto repair shops. It’s just not a nice block if you’re trying to encourage people to come to your hotel. Time will tell — things seem to be working well, I just hope it continues.”

The Department of Homeless Services says it is not currently using the Mill Basin hotel as a shelter, has no plans to, and would notify neighbors a minimum of 30 days in advance if it plans to open one, said a spokeswoman for the city agency.

Wyndham Hotel Group, the parent organization to Days Inn, did not respond to a request for comment.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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