Not in My Backyard! Brooklyn Residents Say New Hotel Will Bring Prostitution and Drugs to East Flatbush
East Flatbush is a lovely neighborhood in Brooklyn -- but it's just not really a tourist destination. So if a developer is looking to open a hotel in the area, it can only mean one thing: Prostitution, drugs, and other bad, bad activity. Right?
With support from City Councilman Jumaane Williams, neighborhood homeowners and tenants have mobilized a campaign to stop the hotel from being built. The proposed establishment at 5911 Foster Avenue will not attract tourists looking to visit Manhattan or folks hoping to stay near the airport, the project's opponents argue. Instead, they say, it will likely be a cheap motel with hourly rates that encourages prostitution, drug deals, and other bad behavior.
The Voice spoke with Williams by phone this afternoon to hear some of his concerns with the project.
"Some people call it a 'hit it and quit it' inn," he said. "We're pretty sure they're going to have half hour rates or hourly rates, which really attracts prostitution and things of that nature. The homeowners there have done a really good job of keeping those blocks a place you would want to raise a family."
It really just doesn't make any sense, he added, noting that "it's just not a place for a hotel to be. It's not gonna be a Radisson or Hyatt or something like that...It's just not a tourist destination."
The Council member, who has been working with a block association on the matter, has also expressed concerns about the lack of transparency with the developers -- and he's got a point.
According to the Department of Buildings, the owner is Viral Patel from a company listed as "DVMB AND VIRAL HOSPITALITY LLC." There doesn't seem to be any website for this LLC, and a quick search seems to connect it only to this project.
This morning, we called the number listed on the Dept. of Buildings for the owner, which led us to a Best Western. The person we were directed to there said that she wasn't sure what we were talking about -- she said she hadn't heard of it -- but said she'd look into it.
We also emailed a Viral Patel from a different hotel company, who got back to us right away and said he had nothing to do with the project and has no business in Brooklyn.
Reps from Williams' office said they have tried to track down the people behind this project in numerous ways, but have had no luck.
"It doesn't bode well," Williams said. "If this were a...Hyatt, I would be able to get in touch with someone."
The site is zoned in a way that accommodates a range of uses -- including hotels -- such that the developers could avoid the local community board and the City Planning Commission.
In a release sent out last week, the Council member said he is exploring possible legislation to require new hotel developments in residential areas to present plans to the relevant community board. A spokesperson from the Council member's office said that they heard that workers were breaking ground on the site today.
"We are going to mount a lot of public pressure," Williams said. "As soon as we found out where these guys offices are or where they live, we'll pay them a visit as well."
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