News Sports Opinion Obituaries Contents
News

The Bradley hotel served the rich and famous for over ninety years until the early 1960s. Famous guests included Diamond Jim Brady, actress and singer Lillian Russell, George M. Cohan, Will Rogers, and New York City's colorful Mayor Jimmy Walker. Photo compliments of the Port Washington Library

Although no plans have been finalized or filed with the Town of North Hempstead, a group of developers have been seeking input from Town officials, community groups and businesses to explore the possibility of a small-scale luxury hotel on lower Main Street opposite the Town Dock. The proposed site is at the approximate location of the Bradley Hotel, built in the 1870s and lost to a fire in 1962. The lots are at 322-326 Main Street. The building at 322 was demolished because it was deemed hazardous. According to the developer, the structure at 326 will come down if the plans go through. (Properties such as these are known as "gray fields.")

The lead developer is Sam Suzuki of the Vintage Group, in association with Joe D'Alonzo of Cow Bay Contracting and Matt Daguanno of CPC Pools. (The latter two company names are for identification only). All three are residents of Port Washington; Joe D'Alonzo is a third generation Port Washingtonian. They were enthusiastic about the benefits that could accrue to the community from such an endeavor, and committed themselves to maximum community input. All three attended the recent town-sponsored visioning meetings. D'Alonzo said, "We got a lot of good ideas from the process, and we would like to have a similar process for the hotel." This thought was echoed by Roy Smitheimer, president of the Port Washington Business Improvement District, and Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman. Smitheimer said, "We want as much input as possible so that everyone can call it his or her own. There is a lot of homework to be done." Supervisor Kaiman committed to holding a public meeting to discuss the plans when they are finalized. He said, "We have taken no position on the concept. We would want to go through a very public process; they need to have the community on board." He added, "There is a need for a hotel in this region; I am not sure that this is the best place." Kaiman said that the idea of a hotel had come up at the visioning meetings and feelings were presented pro and con, but the voluminous data that emerged from the process have not yet been completely analyzed.

Site of the proposed new hotel across from the Town Dock. To the left is the recently opened Port Tire and Auto Service.

The developers were enthusiastic about the possibility of the proposed hotel serving as a gateway and a focal point for the revitalization of Main Street, and the area around the town dock in particular. Suzuki said, "We want to build something of which Port Washington is proud. We are trying to do the right thing." D'Alonzo added, "This could be the anchor. I am third generation Port Washington - I am not going to do anything that hurts this community." The developers said that a hotel in Port could qualify us as a tourist destination (we already meet the other criteria) and open up the possibility of grant money for re-development and improvement of the waterfront. D'Alonzo said, "We are talking synergy-a public-private partnership with this as the anchor."

Emphasizing that the plans have not been finalized, Suzuki said that they want the hotel design to be in keeping with the nautical and aeronautical flavor of the community. He used as an example the historic American Hotel in Sag Harbor. [Note, however, that according to their web site, the American Hotel has eight guest rooms; the Main Street Hotel is tentatively planned for about 50 rooms.] They said that they plan to have an attractive streetscape with lighting, trees and other plantings, a wraparound porch and balconies, and possibly benches as well. Daguanno added, "The building will be environmentally friendly. We will have a green roof; use 'gray' water [i.e. recycled water] for irrigation, and low-water fixtures."

One of the concerns raised by a number of persons with whom the Port News spoke was traffic. The developers are planning a jitney shuttle from the hotel to the station and back. They said that this raises a possibility that additional outside funding could be raised to extend the route of the jitney, thus contributing to the solution of the traffic and parking problems in our downtown area. (They noted that the BID has for a number of years been discussing the possibility of a trolley; they thought that this might serve that need.) In the spirit of the old Bradley Hotel, which used to conduct a pig-weighing contest, the developers are opening a contest to the public for a design of the jitney. The first prize is $1,000. To submit an entry, or for more information about the contest, contact Matt Daguanno c/o CPC Pools at Port Washington Boulevard, e-mail cpcpools2@msn.com.

As mentioned, the proposed hotel would have about 50 rooms. Suzuki said that the intention is to create a four-star hotel. He clarified, "Four-star in terms of amenities, not prices. It will not be overly expensive." The primary market, he said, is for visiting friends and relatives; celebrations like weddings, bah and bat mitzvahs, graduations, and the like; and tourists - boaters in particular.

Currently the site is a combination of commercial and residential zoning. Suzuki said that they plan to request a zoning "change of use" for the residential portion in order to provide parking. He said that a zoning variance would most likely not be necessary, as the footprint and height of the new structure will be approximately that of the existing buildings. Kaiman said that a site plan review will be necessary, which will include an opportunity for public comment.

Dan Donatelli, co-president of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington said he and other officers of the organization had met with the developers. "To their credit," he said, "they were willing to discuss the plans with us." He said that the general consensus of the Residents group was that the structure as originally proposed was too large. He said, "There was agreement that certainly there is a need for a hotel, and we believe it could benefit all of the Port Washington community." He added, "We do have two important concerns. One is the scope of the project, and the other is whether this is the proper location for it." Donatelli said that they had expressed their concerns to the developer, who promised to re-work the plans and share them with Residents. Donatelli commented, "One concept is to try to get some tourism going for boating and transient boats." He said that representatives of Residents had spoken with the Port Washington police who, he said, have expressed concerns about the traffic, and in particular the left-hand turns into and out of the property.

The Port News spoke with Tinu Thakore of Covert Street, head of the Mitchell Farms civic association and a leader in the Preserve Our Waterfront group which successfully fought back a previous plan for assisted living facilities on lower Main Street. She said that the developers had not approached her to discuss their plans, and she did not know of any other Covert Street residents who had been approached. [Covert Street is directly behind the proposed development.] She said, "We recognize the right of a property owner to develop his or her property. The problem here is that this area symbolizes what Port Washington is all about. We want to see something there that will beautify the waterfront." She added, "Personally, I would like to see the town take over the site for a park or museum or the like, but I recognize that may not be possible." She was concerned about a hotel that she thought might be "massive," but suggested that a small bed and breakfast might be appropriate. She emphasized, however, that she would have to see plans before commenting on the specifics of this particular proposal. Regarding the conversion of the residential portion of the property to commercial, she said, "That would set a dangerous precedent." She pointed out that a change in zoning would adversely affect the persons living adjacent to the property, who, she said, "Bought their homes thinking they were protected from having a commercial development next door."

The other proposed development on Main Street, also a project of the Vintage group, is the block across the street from the railroad station between Irma and Herbert. All of the storefronts are currently vacant except for the Port Main Fish Market at 71 Main. The Bank of America (formerly Fleet Bank) at the corner of Irma remains open for business. In a previous interview, the manager told the Port News, "As far as I'm concerned, we're not going anywhere." Suzuki's concept for the area is for mixed use, with apartments above the storefronts. The Town of North Hempstead building code prohibits such use (the current units were "grandfathered" in), so a new zoning regulation would be required. Both Suzuki and Kaiman said that they are awaiting the results of the visioning process before proceeding further. Suzuki said, "I am hoping that the results support mixed use. This is a way to create affordable housing, and is in keeping with the other buildings on that part of Main Street."


LongIsland.com Logo
An Official Newspaper of the
LongIsland.Com Internet Community


| antonnews.com home | Email the Port Washington News|
Copyright ©2005 Anton Community Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

LinkExchange
LinkExchange Member

Farmingdale Observer Floral Park Dispatch Garden City Life Glen Cove Record Pilot Great Neck Record Hicksville Illustrated News Levittown Tribune Manhasset Press Massapequan Observer Mineola American New Hyde Park Illustrated News Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot Plainview Herald Port Washington News Roslyn News Syosset Jericho Tribune Three Village Times Westbury Times Boulevard Magazine Features Calendar Search Add An Event Classified Contacting Anton News