2010-12-03 / Front Page

Baxter’s Hotel Up For Sale

At Least It Appears That Way
By Nicholas Briano
No one knows for sure if he’s really serious. But John Baxter’s Baxter’s Hotel was recently outfitted with a nice big blue and yellow “Available” sign that has caught the eye of Beach 116 Street regulars and has left many to ponder if Baxter will really sell the place this time around.

The Baxter Hotel at 160 Beach 116 Street is taking offers. The Baxter Hotel at 160 Beach 116 Street is taking offers. Well, according to Baxter himself, the hotel is indeed for sale, but then later in the conversation with The Wave it wasn’t, and after that it was again, but this time only to some people while he specifically excluded others from the $2.7 million price tag.

In particular he said there was no way he would ever sell the building to the new proprietors of the next-door Rockaway Park Hotel. The hotel has become a problem, according to Baxter, as people stand outside his property and loiter making it appear to others passing by that they are tenants of Baxter’s Hotel.

“He told us that no one would be standing outside his building. He was right – they are standing outside mine,” Baxter said.

Many in the community are still unsure about what kind of tenants the Rockaway Park Hotel houses, but owner Jay Deutchman told The Wave in April, when he bought the property, that he likes guaranteed rentals and will seek people on government subsidies. He also mentioned that the selected tenants will be attending “programs.”

For many years Baxter refused to sell the property and still to this day defends the type of tenants he accepts in the building as working class folks.

“I have never received any city, state or federal checks for my hotel, but the Lawrence Hotel has and now, the Rockaway Park Hotel,” Baxter said this week. “I only rent to working class people. I have nothing to hide. I have been telling the community for 28 years to come and look at my hotel. None of them would come by because they are only interested in gossip.”

Those who know Baxter will not be surprised by his comments. For more than 28 years he has run the hotel, located at 160 Beach 116 Street, much to the dismay of many in the community who feel it cheapens the character of the block and only attracts a bad brand of people.

“I know what my building is and don’t care what anyone else says,” Baxter said in response to the constant criticism his hotel receives.

When asked if he was selling because he was possibly leaving Rockaway he said, “I’ve been here for 45 years, so I don’t think I’m going anywhere.”

He feels Deutchman would be interested in the hotel, which currently has 34 tenants, if sold for the right price; not, he reiterated, that he would ever sell it to him.

The Rockaway Park Hotel hasn’t affected Baxter’s business as he still maintains a waiting list for tenants, he contends, adding that Rockaway doesn’t need the type of place that the Rockaway Park Hotel has been transformed into.

“Why is there no opposition to this?” Baxter said. “These people need help and it is unfair to put so much of this in Rockaway Beach.”

Baxter then concedes and says he really would prefer to leave his hotel as is, thus supporting the premise that it’s not for sale. He honestly believes that there will be no buyers interested in making the property into condominiums, but once again didn’t rule out the possibility of selling if an offer is made.

In a truly contradictory sense, however, he then immediately says he loves his building and has no intention of selling.

“I honestly have no intention on selling the building, but want to see what kind of reaction I would get,” he said. “I definitely wouldn’t sell to the Rockaway Park Hotel or someone like him, not for the community but because of the building. It doesn’t deserve to be abused. It is the best building in Rockaway and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. It is a part of me.”

Baxter says his building is the safest in the neighborhood, bar none.

“Very seldom does the 100 Precinct have to respond to an incident in my building,” he continued. “My building is far safer than any home in Belle Harbor or Neponsit, combined. I know that for a fact.”

When asked about the theater on the first floor of the hotel that he claims his critics could care less about, he vowed to continue on.

“If I sell it I will find another way. If one monkey doesn’t dance another will.”

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