As promised, State Senator Marty Golden rallied for the third time on Friday, May 4 against the six-story, 63-unit hotel proposed for the long-vacant lot across the street from P.S./I.S. 104.
“What’s coming here is a hotel that’s going to have homeless vouchers and that’s going to bring homeless people to the community, which I have no problem with,” said Golden, who promised to rally weekly – if he has to – to stop the hostelry from going up. “I think we need to have housing for our homeless but not across from an overcrowded school in the most overcrowded school district in the city of New York.”
The lot in question, 9114 Fifth Avenue, is opposite the notably overcrowded school and, aside from parking for the window purveyors next door, has been vacant and on the market at the hands of a Ridge-based seller for nearly a decade.
The buyer – Ankit Mehta – remains under fire for his plans, permits for which were pre-filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB) just days before Golden’s first public protest of the proposal.
The pol, for the third time, contended that the site – zoned for commercial use – would be better suited for a school, as the neighborhood is within the catchment area of one of the most overcrowded school districts in the city. In addition, he maintained, Bay Ridge does not need a hotel.
Nor, Golden asserts, does it need a homeless shelter – something, he alleged for a third time Friday, that the development will eventually become when its room do not fill up, citing properties Golden contends Mehta is connected to citywide that already utilize the system, as well as controversial hotel developer Sam Chang via an affiliation with McSam Hotel Group (all connections the buyer has repeatedly denied to this paper).
Mehta does attest to owning another hotel, though, not once, he said, has he done business with the Department of Homeless Services, Section 8 housing or other for-profit voucher programs.
Golden, who has since launched a petition against the proposal, still isn’t buying it.
“He keeps saying he has nothing to do with the East New York Inn but, when you look up all the LLCs he’s connected to, McSam is one of them,” the pol said. “There is no way a hotel survives here without homeless vouchers. He’s not being truthful to us.”
When all is said and done, the senator said, he believes Mehta will flip the property, leaving his constituents “stuck with a hotel that not only has homeless vouchers but also prostitution and who knows what else.”
The almost 4,000-square foot site isn’t zoned for a school; however, according to the Department of City Planning, it would not be impossible to build a school on the site. In fact, a special permit request was submitted to the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals in 2016 for a six-story expansion to Bay Ridge Prep at 429 89th Street – a nearby plot of land with the same C8-2 zoning.
Furthermore, Golden said, Bay Ridge already has two hotels – the Prince and the Gregory – both of which already house the homeless. All three rallies have taken place during school dismissal rush hour, Golden citing other community concerns such as congestion and lack of parking.
“The congestion in this area is not safe for children,” Bay Ridge Community Council President Ralph Succar, who has opposed the project since its inception, said at the most recent rally. “We need classrooms. We do not need hotel rooms. Bay Ridge cannot handle another one.”
Still, Mehta and his representative, Joel Schnur, stand by what they’ve told this paper.
“No matter how many times we have said that Mr. Mehta does not have a business relationship with Mr. Chang nor does he own or co-own 60 LLCs with him, the canard is still repeated by Golden and staff,” Schnur said after the second rally. “Despite the fact that Mr. Mehta has stated for the record that he does not own the East New York Inn and has no connection to it nor does he intend to charge hourly rates or apply for a voucher system for the homeless, Golden et al keep on repeating the charges. I guess the Big Lie lives on in their minds.”
“They can say anything they want to say today,” Golden for his part contested, adding that, while Mehta has responded to this newspaper’s requests for comments, he has yet to have a sit down with him and his staff. “This is just another greedy businessman trying to make a dollar at the behest of a community that’s trying hard to make sure that we do what’s right for our children, for our families and our community.”