2004-08-20 / Editorial/Opinion

Baited Breath On Beach 116 Street

The shopping area centered on Beach 116 Street is arguably the most important commercial real estate on the peninsula. For quite some time that shopping area has been impacted by a number of negative factors, not the least of which are the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) and adult hotels that tend to bring low shopper’s perception of the street if not their reality. The Lawrence Hotel was always the worst of the three, even after the city, under pressure and lawsuits from the community, closed it as one of the most notorious welfare hotels in New York. Most recently, that hotel became a pigeon-plagued eyesore, dangerous and unhealthy. The Baxter Hotel, while less a problem than the others, adds little to the street, with its transient population. The Rockaway Park Hotel, the third in the main shopping area, lends little to the ambience of the felling of revitalization that the street needs. The Park Inn Hotel, on the boardwalk at Beach 116 Street, was once the premier hotel in the west end Rockaway, with its catering facilities and swimming pool. Now, it houses many adult emotionally disturbed persons who wander the area like wraiths. Many a businessperson has been foreclosed from moving onto the street and many a prospective patron has been chased from the street by the denizens of the street’s adult hotels. Now, however a sea change may be underway. The Lawrence Hotel has been sold and the new owner plans a store, restaurant and condos in the ill-reputed building. While John Baxter refused to comment, it is clear that the same person would like to buy the Baxter Hotel as well and make it part of the package. The Seaport would make a nice redevelopment threesome, and we understand that too is in the discussion stage. As for the Park Inn Hotel, the demise of that home for adults must come from the city. With a new high-rise condominium project right on the beachfront between Beach 116 and Beach 117 Streets slated to begin soon and with a revitalized facility replacing the other hotels on the street, the city has to bow to the realities of life in Rockaway and close the Park Inn. Rockaway residents await with baited breath that time when this sea change becomes a reality and they once again reclaim the street for their own.

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