As workers hammered away Wednesday afternoon, boarding up the entrance to the , they may have been putting the final nails into the coffin of the infamous establishment in West Hempstead.
Earlier in the day, management placed signs on the hotel's doors which read, "Closed for Business, Cerado," the first indications that the end may finally be here for the storied existence of the Courtesy Hotel in the West Hempstead community.
After making a lewd remark to this reporter, a man working at the hotel Wednesday afternoon - who refused to disclose his actual name but appeared to be affiliated with the business - said that the hotel was "temporarily closed."
"It could open again," he said, "but we're closing it to prepare for the deal to go through."
Mill Creek, the developer that entered into a purchasing agreement with the owners of the Courtesy Hotel, plans to close on the property sometime this month, according to the company's VP of Development Maria Rigopoulos.
Rigopoulos told Patch that Mill Creek already obtained building permit approval and will acquire a demolition permit once they take possession of the site and have a chance to abate the building.
"We have not closed on it yet, but we're anticipating it will be happen this month," she said.
getting to this point for the developers and even more so for the residents and community activists of West Hempstead who have working on bringing down the joint for over 15 years.The purchasing agreement between the Courtesy and Mill Creek - formerly known as Trammel Crow Residential - was dependent upon the developer getting authorization to have the density and zoning laws changed.
"The developer couldn't move forward on anything until they had authorization for both of these, which wasn't received until early 2010," Rosalie Norton, president of the Community Support and Civic Association, explained to Patch during an interview in late-November.
The town had to create a new density category, "transit-oriented development," to allow a complex with this many residential units to be built in this area. The close proximity to the West Hempstead train station helped its case. Then, there was the problem that the property had been listed as eminent domain, which also slowed down progress, but by late fall Norton said all parties were "just waiting for the bank to get all the paperwork in order."
The developer had announced in the fall that it had hoped to close the deal by the end of 2010.
"It would probably be in a matter of days that they demolish it," Norton said, explaining that the vacant building would most likely be a liability if they kept it standing.
The West Hempstead Community Support and Civic Association and other residents of the area have been fighting for years to bring down the business, which had become a hot-bed for crime.
"It was a magnet for every illegal activity going down," Norton said. "The last five years were some of the worst - young girls statutory raped, shootings, muggings and robberies.
Once they bring down the hotel they plan to erect a 150-unit transit-oriented development on the site called the Alexan@West Hempstead, which residents hope will bring affordable housing for young families and business people to the area and help revitalize it's downtown.
"I could imagine [the closing] will be very, very soon," Norton said. She predicts the developer will have a fence up around the property almost immediately after closing the deal.
She added,"When you see the fence go up I can imagine [the Courtesy] will come down very soon - maybe even within 24 hours."