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Problem-Plagued Midland Motel Can No Longer Be Hotel Under Zoning, BP Says

By Nicholas Rizzi | September 25, 2017 3:54pm
 The Midland Motor Inn will no longer be allowed to reopen as a transient hotel because its zoning changed since it didn't reopen after its 2015 fire, Borough President James Oddo said.
The Midland Motor Inn will no longer be allowed to reopen as a transient hotel because its zoning changed since it didn't reopen after its 2015 fire, Borough President James Oddo said.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

MIDLAND BEACH — A problem-plagued motel destroyed by a fire in 2015 can no longer reopen as a hotel under the city's zoning laws, Borough President James Oddo announced last week.

The Midland Motor Inn, at 630 Midland Ave., can't be a transient hotel again since it hasn't been used as one since July 2015, subjecting it to current zoning law that bars its use as lodging.

"Residents were forced to endure the operation of this facility and all the ills it brought to the community for what seemed like an eternity," Oddo said Thursday.

"Despite my best efforts as a City Council Member and Borough President to shut this place down, the facility continued to give rise to many of the ills that plagued the community. I am hopeful that the property will be used for some good in the future, though practically any use would be better than its prior use."

The owner of the hotel, Kanti Patel, said he submitted plans twice since the fire to rebuild but they were both rejected by the city. He still plans to file another soon and said he wasn't too bothered about the opposition to his property.

"What can I do, I cannot kill myself, I don't give a damn," said Patel, 80. "I have so much property and I have so much money, I don't give a damn."

Patel added that if the city doesn't approve his plans a third time he'll considering switching the property to a single-room occupancy residence (SRO) similar to a spot he owns in St. George.

"I take out the name of the hotel, totally out of the Midland Hotel, I sell the building to my other corporation and put the SRO," he said.

The hotel originally opened in the late 1950s as the Lincoln Hotel for summer vacationers to Midland Beach, the Staten Island Advance reported. However, once the tourism trade died down in the neighborhood, the hotel struggled and it eventually became the Midland Motor Inn.

The Midland Motor Inn had a long list of violations and complaints of illegal activity from the community in the past decade and then-Councilman Oddo worked to shut down the spot in 2009 after reports of bedbugs, mold and roaches, the Advance reported.

Patel dodged complaints from residents on the conditions of the spot and blamed it on not being able to attract "good people" to stay at the spot.

"All kinds of people come in hotel, I cannot choose people," he said. "Not good people come there because it's not a good area."

On July 22, 2015 a large fire sparked by a "careless" smoker tore through the hotel and it has been closed since. Oddo, Councilman Steven Matteo and residents banded together to keep the city from letting it reopen as a hotel.

Patel estimated it would cause $600,000 to rebuild the spot.

Despite the damage, the motel was put up on the market in October 2015 for $3.5 million, but it never sold because of uncertainty over whether the city would allow it to rebuild, Patel said.

He filed plans to rebuild, most recently in November 2016, but the Department of Buildings denied them and a full vacate order has been issued for the property since the fire, records show.

The zoning code in the neighborhood changed in the '60s to bar transient hotels, but the Midland Motor Inn was allowed to continue because it was open before then, Oddo said.

However, since it didn't reopen for more than two years, the variance was discontinued.

"For far too long, like Jason Voorhees in the 'Friday the 13th' movies, it stubbornly refused to die; but now since its operation was discontinued for so long it is dead," he said.