Legendary ‘short-stay’ hotel satisfies its last customer

Sheepshead Bay’s classic hot-sheets motel will soon host its last afternoon delight.

The Golden Gate Motor Inn on the corner of Shore Parkway and Knapp Street, a notorious spot for “short-stay” service, will close on Dec. 26 because of “bad business,” said owner Harshad Patel, who is believed to have sold the property.

“I’ve lost $4 to $5 million,” said Patel, who bought the hotel in 2006. “People just aren’t staying here anymore since the economic downturn.”

The hotel, equipped with a banquet hall and outdoor pool, opened in 1964, convenient for the riders of the dozens of party boats that used to dock at the bay near Emmons Avenue and those coming from Kennedy Airport 20 minutes away.

“The Golden Gate Motor Inn’s heyday was the 1960s and ’70s,” said Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo. “It used to be a family place.”

But over the past 30 years, the hotel became known more as a place to slip away for a “nooner” rather than serving as a destination for tourists and business travelers.

“This used to be the place for high school students to go,” said Ken Lazar, a community affairs officer with the Department of Buildings.

The majority of the Golden Gate Inn’s patrons are on “short-stay,” paying $55 to $79 to use a room for up to four hours, according to front desk clerk Margaret Fotie.

“We’ve had some real characters,” said Fotie, who has worked at the hotel for 12 years. “Now that I’ve worked here, I’ve seen everything.”

But Fotie added that even the short-stay customers aren’t attracted to the place like they used to be. Five years ago, the hotel usually booked all 144 rooms each week, but lately, only about 100 rooms are booked per week, Fotie said.

In his four years as owner, Patel compensated for the loss in business by laying off about 65 workers, leaving the hotel with only 20 employees, Fotie said.

She added that Golden Gate, whose lobby was renovated in 1998, has since fallen into disrepair.

“We don’t have the money to get new curtains, new rugs and other things the place needs,” Fotie said.

Golden Gate’s residential location makes it poor competition for the dozens of hotels popping up in more bustling neighborhoods around the borough. Brooklyn is in a hotel-building frenzy, gaining about 1,800 hotel rooms in the past five years with 900 more under construction.

Some say that Patel has always wanted to get his sprawling Golden Gate Inn property out of the hotel business. Shortly after he purchased Golden Gate, he proposed converting the hotel into four, seven-story apartment buildings, according to Scavo. But he dropped that plan after the community lambasted it, saying that it would bring in too many people and traffic.

Clearly, the board favored having a short-stay hotel in the neighborhood.

Patel would not reveal to whom he sold the property, but Fotie said that she heard rumors that a private school owned by a Turkish-based company would be moving in. City records do not indicate any deed transfers.