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A. Thomas Levin Quoted in NY Daily News, "Town Stalls Owner's Try to Unload Seedy Hotel"

Nov 14, 2007Local Government and Land Use

Media Source: New York Daily News


A SEEDY West Hempstead hotel seems to have more lives than a cat - even though everyone, including its owners, wants it closed.

A crucial town hearing that many hoped would nail the coffin shut on the Courtesy Hotel on Hempstead Ave. has been postponed until Dec. 11, dragging out an already protracted saga.

The town board may decide that day to delay its vote on the Courtesy's fate until January, and its decision could lead to an extended legal battle.

'The Courtesy should have been closed by the end of the year,' said Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Civic Association. 'There's no way of understanding the reluctance to move forward.'

The delays are tied to a feud between the town board and the Courtesy's owners, brothers Bruce and Richard Zwelsky.

The Zwelskys want to shutter the hotel, allegedly a hangout for prostitutes, and agreed last year to sell the land to apartment complex developer Trammell Crow Residential.

But the town government is seeking to prevent the sale. The Dec. 11 hearing centers on a plan that would condemn the Courtesy land and sell the property to a developer.

'It's more playing games and it's more delay,' said Thomas Levin, a lawyer representing the Zwelsky brothers.

If the board votes to condemn the land - instead of letting the Zwelskys sell it to Trammell Crow - Levin said he expects to wage a legal battle, which some believe could drag on for months, if not years.

Levin said he couldn't predict when the hotel would close, given the town board's sluggish pace.

The hearing yesterday was canceled because two of seven town board members were absent, and the board needs a super-majority - a majority plus one - to approve the plan, said town spokesman Mike Deery.

Marshall Myers, the civic association's vice president, wondered whether the board delayed the vote in the hope that fewer residents would show up to protest.

'Once Thanksgiving hits, people's brains go into holiday mode,' Myers said. 'They don't want to hear it if it's anything besides being with family and shopping for Christmas.'