Fire sale! ‘Hot sheet’ hotel opponents will help developer sell property

Hot sheets: City Countilman Jumaane Williams and Canarsie locals are worried that this Foster Avenue lot will blossom into an hourly rate hotel.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

If you can’t beat ‘em, help ‘em find a buyer.

Flatlands residents are so desperate to put the kibosh on a proposed Foster Avenue hotel they say will be a hooker hot spot that they’ve agreed to find someone to buy the property from the developer — a buyer willing to shell out the $1.2 million the developer has already put into the property.

Roy McKenzie, a realtor and president of the E. 59th Street Block Association, said he’s gotten Danny Mehtah, co-owner of the planned hotel between E. 58th and E. 59th streets to stop him and his partners from moving forward with the controversial project — a can of worms that has fueled letter-writing campaigns to City Hall and speculation that the establishment could become a magnet for vagrants and degenerates because of its out-of-the-way location.

“The area where they want to put the hotel is surrounded by junkyards,” said McKenzie. “Nobody’s going to come there except for prostitutes and drug dealers.”

Mehtah, who has refuted claims that he’s opening a hotel with hourly rates, said he’s given community residents 90 days to find a buyer for the property. If one can’t be found by then, shovels will begin going into the ground, he promised.

“If they can’t sell it, I’ll resume construction,” he said.

Mehtah added that he wasn’t aware of the community’s objections to his plans until he’d sunk more than $1 million into the project. He said he halted construction after Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Canarsie) and others told him that he could recoup his investment.

“I’m relying on them, because I’m not a realtor,” he said.

But it may be difficult finding a buyer willing to pay more than $1.2 million for the property, which is about the size of one and a half football fields. Mehtah purchased the land for about $700,000, and says that he’s already put in more than $3,000 in architect and construction fees.

Stefan Ringel, a spokesman for Councilman Williams said the job of finding a buyer willing to develop along community-approved guidelines is moving along just fine.

“The community has identified a number of businesses that they’re attempting to reach out to in the hopes that they’ll be interested in coming in and bringing the type of business the community thinks makes sense,” he said, adding that big names like Golden Crust, Chuck E Cheese, CVS, Rite Aid, and Payless would be more than welcome to set up shop on Foster Avenue.

If a new buyer isn’t found, Williams promised to fight on unless Mehtah and his partners has a change of heart.

“The objective is not to get a hotel built,” Williams said, adding that hotels on strips more commercial than Foster Avenue have failed to succeed — raising questions about how Mehtah plans to boost their bottom line.

“None of those hotels have been sustained on what the developers are saying will sustain them,” Williams said. “They might have the best of intentions, but if the hotel isn’t surviving, they’re going to find a way to survive.”

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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