Archive for the tag 'hotels'

Sleep Inn Hotel

Construction site for the Sleep Inn Hotel (Source: Amusing the Zillion)

Amusing the Zillion reported last week that Sleep Inn Hotel is now under construction on Stillwell Avenue and Avenue Z, just north of the Coney Island Creek, making it the first new hotel in the neighborhood in decades.

The site reports:

A sign on the construction fence says “Anticipated Completion: Fall 2015.” Mahesh Ratjani, one of the partners in the project, tells ATZ: “We are hoping to have it completed by the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015.” According to DOB records, a 12,989 square foot, four-story hotel will occupy the 13,000 square foot lot. Sleep Inn is a member of the Choice Hotels Group.

Documents on the Department of Buildings website show the hotel will have 53 guest rooms.

The problem is that the 2590 Stillwell Avenue lot, which was purchased in 2007 for $1.9 million, isn’t really part of Coney Island. ATZ says it’s the border of Gravesend and Bath Beach, and I’d agree. Regardless, it’s far flung from the amusement district, and ain’t the kind of hotel we were thinking when we heard hotels were coming to Coney Island.

(Source: Wikipedia)

(Source: Wikipedia)

Hundreds of storm victims, blown out of their destroyed homes by Superstorm Sandy last year, will soon be leaving the various hotels that housed them under a New York City-run transitional sheltering program. the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, a FEMA operation. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that state Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan has ruled that the city is no longer obligated to house the storm victims. (Corrected)

Approximately 350 people are still living in taxpayer funded hotel rooms after the storm destroyed homes and apartments of thousands of victims. To date, the program has cost $73.5 million and, in her ruling, Justice Chan has determined that the money to extend the program is gone.

“It is true that plaintiffs have suffered much, and can do without another upheaval of moving into the shelter system. However, the point of this upheaval is the lack of further funding from FEMA and there is no showing or even argued that FEMA can be estopped (sic) from declining to fund the Hotel Program,” Chan wrote in her order.

As we previously reported, the program was extended numerous times with the latest extension running until September 30. On behalf of the victims, representatives from the Legal Aid Society have argued that the City failed to find affordable replacement housing for the refugees and was considering an appeal of this latest decision. In opposition, New York City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo argued that there simply isn’t any money left over to continue.

“Interim housing, along with intensive case management services, was provided, but was never intended to be a permanent solution. As the court has recognized, the City cannot afford to single-handedly continue this program in the absence of FEMA funding,” Cardozo told the Journal.

The Journal also reported that if victims are indeed forced to leave the hotels, they will have the option to move into the homeless shelter system.

Correction (October 2, 2013): A FEMA rep got in touch to point out that this was not the FEMA-run Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, as our report original indicated. It was a city-run program. FEMA’s program ended on September 16. We regret the error.

Moving the Brighton Beach Hotel (Source: New York Public Library via

Moving the Brighton Beach Hotel (Source: New York Public Library via

In the 1870s, Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach were some of the poshest digs this side of fancy-town; an exclusive getaway for New York’s monocle wearing upper-crust. A fascinating report by Curbed traces this history, a time when the two beach communities were once dotted with lavish hotels and resorts.

Right off the bat, we learn that Manhattan Beach had a “creator” in the person of wealthy railroad tycoon (and notorious anti-Semite) Austin Corbin. Corbin began investing heavily in the area when a doctor told him that seaside living would improve his son’s health. Curbed describes the birth and subsequent expansion of the early Manhattan Beach community:

Corbin was a guest at the Ocean Hotel owned by William Engelman, a man who made his fortune selling horses to the government during the Civil War. While there, Corbin set his sights on the uninhabited swampland east of Engelman’s property, realizing its potential as a resort destination. He chose the name “Manhattan Beach” in the hope that its cosmopolitan flavor would attract a clientele of the same ilk. Also recognizing that the remote location required transportation access, he used his power as president of the Long Island Railroad to construct the New York and Manhattan Beach Railway, bringing the shore within one hour of uptown New York.

After Corbin got the trains connected to the city, the luxurious Queen Anne-style Manhattan Beach Hotel opened for business on July 4, 1877. Attracting former President Ulysses S. Grant to the grand opening ceremonies, the hotel held the reputation as “the best hotel on the Atlantic Ocean” according to an ancient review in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Curbed described some of the amenities available at the four-story wooden hotel as well as Corbin’s continued expansion of the area:

[T]he hotel featured 150 guest rooms as well as an assortment of restaurants, ballrooms, and shops and offered first class entertainment—John Philip Sousa performed here and wrote the musical piece “The Manhattan Beach March” in the hotel’s honor in 1893. In addition, exclusive New York clubs such as the University Club, the Union League, the New York Club and the Coney Island Jockey Club used the resort as their summer headquarters. Based on the success of his first hotel, Corbin would build another three years later—the Oriental Hotel. An opulent hotel with a Moorish motif, this hotel catered to the wealthiest of families, offering them suites for extended stays throughout the entire resort season.

Engelman, the hotel proprietor who originally hosted Corbin in his own Ocean Hotel, was not to be outdone. He created his own resort, which he dubbed Brighton Beach, inspired by the British seaside location. Engelman built the Hotel Brighton in 1878 right by the shore but in 10 years time, Mother Nature had intervened forcing dramatic action to save the hotel:

The beach in front of the hotel would become so badly eroded that the ocean waves would lap up against the hotel’s façade. To save it from destruction, the hotel was placed atop 120 railcars and moved inland 500 to 600 feet [pictured above]. This massive job only took three months to complete, meaning the hotel was open for business again in the summer of 1888. Engelman failed to lure Corbin’s wealthier clientele, however, because they did not wish to be any closer to Coney Island.

The resort business was booming in the late 19th century as wealthy patrons enjoyed horse-racing particularly. The area soon became the top horse-racing spot in all of America. Despite the success of all the hotels and resorts, their popularity quickly waned due to a ban on gambling which killed the horse-race loving crowds. Curbed describes the gambling prohibition and other factors which led to the end of the resorts by the 1920s.

The amusement parks opening in West Brighton, the suburbanization of parts of Brooklyn, and the Manhattan Beach Improvement Company selling off parcels of land for residential development. But what truly destroyed these areas was the prohibition of gambling, forcing the once very lucrative horse tracks to close, thus causing many patrons to stop coming to these resorts. Between 1910 and 1920, both the Manhattan Beach (1911-2) and Oriental Hotels (1916) were torn down and the land was sold for residential development. Although once considered a negative, the Brighton Beach Hotel’s close proximity to Coney Island, which was at its peak during this time, meant that the Brighton Beach Hotel fared a bit better—it stood until 1926. Although these hotels were gone, the area remained popular for its Manhattan Beach Baths, a bungalow and bathhouse community with daily concerts and dance. The baths closed in 1942, marking the end of Manhattan and Brighton beaches as resort destinations.

While Brighton Beach has transformed into a Russian immigrant stronghold and the resorts of Manhattan Beach have given way to private homes, the last remaining artifact of that bygone Victorian era is the boardwalk and the view of the ocean. Am I the only one who wishes they had a time machine to visit the 1880s and see what these areas actually were like in fancier times?

Golden Gate Inn Is Closed


The Golden Gate Inn (3867 Shore Parkway) is closed for business. We’ve heard that the property was sold, but the deed transfer has not yet hit the net. It last sold in 2006 for $15.4 million. No information about the buyer is available yet.

Looks like the Windjammer, a.k.a. the Lyghthouse Inn, is going to pick up traffic in the daytime quickie category.

I know, I know – most of the entries in our Postcard series have depicted Manhattan Beach. Well, what do you want? It was a resort! With all the postcards being from the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th, those hanging out in Sheepshead Bay were too busy gambling at the racetracks and shuckin’ oysters to be sending out postcards to their pampered sisters out in… wherever. Postcard sending then, as now, was a woman’s duty (Ed. – We have no historical evidence to support that fact. Just that this manly writer hates sending postcards.), and, like all women on vacation, they just wanted to sit around the hotel and… uh… stare at walls, or whatever you do at hotels.

Anyway, back to the point. This one came from eBay, and the seller says:

This perhaps is the nicest of all images I have come across that pictures the famous Oriental Hotel which was located at Manhattan Beach just above the Coney Island section … The image is captioned at the lower margin and reads Oriental Hotel , Coney Island , NY. There is also an additional caption in the upper right corner advertising the hotel was painted inside and out with King Paint , a company located in Brooklyn New York City … The reverse side mentions the publisher as being American Views , NY. It has a divided back, is postally used, bearing a 1915 cancel.

I decided to briefly look into King Paint. According to Who’s Who in New York City and State, published in 1917, it was a Williamsburg-based company, located at 449 Kent Avenue. It was owned by Robert M. King, who lived at 941 Ocean Avenue in Ditmas Park, and he also had some ownership stakes in local hardware and other companies. The business was established in 1852.

How’s that for information you’ll never use?

It’s been a while since we’ve had an entry into our Postcard series, but good things come to those who wait. This dynamic piece captures a diver in midair over what the postcard calls “Stillwater Lagoon”  in Manhattan Beach. While we know the Blackstone Hotel had a lagoon, and that would certainly fit given the timeline (1923 postmark), we’re not sure if that’s the one shown here. Regardless – we appreciate that this eBay seller put it up. We’ve got another cool one for you tomorrow.

Haven’t yet seen this angle of the Oriental Hotel, which faced Sheepshead Bay between Ocean Avenue and Girard Street was somewhere else entirely [Read comments]. The photo comes from Cool, eh?

This was originally to be a “Postcard” piece, as the image above comes from an eBay auction. But further research revealed a fascinating part of Manhattan Beach history, dating back too far to fit even in the “Remember When” series.

From the Harper’s Weekly archive, the wood engraving above is not some illustration of a far off land beset by flame and destruction. Instead it’s a fireworks display, put on in 1885 in Manhattan Beach.

Keep reading about Manhattan Beach’s awesome fireworks displays around the turn of the century, and to see photos of the beach from that era.

Ladies and gentlemen, the end of an era has arrived. Windjammer Motor Inn has perished, and in its place stands… uh… Lyghthouse Inn (3206 Emmons Avenue). Yeah, that’s a “Y”. We don’t get it either.

(Actually, after looking through our archives we remembered the owner’s name is Terrence Lyght. Get it?!)

According to the clerks at the Comfort Inn next door, Windjammer made the change just last week. They couldn’t tell me why, and I wasn’t willing to go into Lyghthouse to ask; I have severe allergic reactions to gonorrhea and desperation.

As one observer put it, “It’s really the youth who will miss out. ‘I lost my virginity at the Lyghthouse’ just doesn’t sound the same.”

Requiescat in pace, Windjammer. You will be missed.

Anyone have memories to share?

(Photo by Leighton O’Connor)

Last Thursday, we reported on the potentially hazardous situation at the Windjammer Motor Inn on Emmons Ave. City officials had inspected the motel for reports of no alternate means of egress in case of fire, and issued a violation for 15 of the interior rooms for failing to provide natural light and ventilation.

I made a number of calls to the Windjammer to try to get some more information. Terrence Lyght, Manager, invited me to come and take pictures of the unventilated rooms. He said that the Windjammer continued in operation without any problem, ever since it was bought from the original owner. Mr. Lyght believes that that the original owner, Mr. Levenbaum, had those rooms built with no windows, because there are some patrons who want privacy without the potential of someone being able to peer through windows. I’m guessing that way back when they built the place, curtains and drapes had not been invented.

In our first conversation, I asked Mr. Lyght, if he was planning on having the rooms mentioned in the violation open for rent. His response was, “We have 17 days in which we can answer the violation. In the meantime, we assume that we can [rent the rooms].” Gene Berardelli, of the Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic Association, said that it is his understanding that according to the violation code, use of rooms where there are no windows and no ventilation, should be discontinued.

When I asked Mr. Lyght how often they conduct fire and safety drills on site, he said that they are conducted regularly. When I asked how regularly that would be, he said that they conduct fire drills according to the codes. Mr. Lyght was unsure how often the code requires safety drills, but he is certain that the Windjammer conducts them every couple of weeks.

Before I could make the appointment to go in to get pictures for you, readers, management had changed its mind. Mr. Lyght now insists that I come in so that I could meet him in person and show him my identification, but I will not be allowed to take any photographs. Apparently, the Brooklyn View newspaper made a visit to the Windjammer and they were not allowed to get pictures. It seems that now, too, that our questions to Mr. Lyght about the rooms being in operation may have prompted him to question his original assumption that it would be okay to rent out the 15 firetraps mentioned in the violation, since it appears that management has had a change of heart on this issue.

At no time during the conversation, did Mr. Lyght mention that they are working to remedy the situation about the unventilated rooms. There was no talk about reconstruction or fixes to make it safe for guests, but there was talk about answering the violation and waiting to see what would happen. I would suggest that while waiting to hear from the court about whether housing people in potentially dangerous boxes is within the law, you might like to shed some light into this situation by calling some reputable contractors.

Sorry, all you Windjammers, who were just banging down the doors to get your windowless, ultra-private, super-dark, extra-stuffy interior rooms, you’ll have to wait until the judge strikes his gavel for us to see what the Windjammer thinks of your safety.

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