Residents react to pending sale of Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn to new developer

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More than a month after developers announced a plan to purchase and redevelop the site of the Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn, many residents said they were pleased to see it go, while others said they were concerned about the future of the site.

The Capri has a history of drug, prostitution and assault arrests at or near the motel. In July, Mayor Alan Beach announced that developer Anthony Bartone, of the Farmingdale-based Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, planned to purchase the building and redevelop it into luxury apartments.

Bartone met with residents for an open house at the Knights of Columbus on Tuesday. The sale is contingent on the village board’s approval of Bartone’s plan. Until then, the Capri will continue to operate. Calls to the motel’s general manager, Harry Wagner, had not been returned at press time.

“Very glad it’s going away,” resident Ed Farrell said of the Capri. “It was a stain on Lynbrook.”

Resident John De Luca said the Capri was a “black eye for Lynbrook,” while Joan Schaefer-Miller called the motel “horrible” and said that “anything would be better than having the Capri Lynbrook motel there.”

Some residents, however, expressed concern about Bartone’s plan to redevelop the site because of the controversy that grew out of his proposal to build a $75 million luxury apartment complex and $10 million parking garage in the village. Lynbrook officials scrapped the plan — dubbed the Cornerstone at Lynbrook — last November, after resident backlash over a perceived lack of information about the project and because of its scope.

Though reaction was mostly positive, resident Nick Dazzo said he was concerned that the Capri project might turn out to be similarly controversial. “It’s going to end up being a Cornerstone 2.0,” he said. “They’ll want to listen to the residents, but end up building apartments.”

Some residents also expressed concerns about what an influx of residents would mean for parking, a common concern in the village.

In learning from the Cornerstone fallout, Bartone said he intended to keep an open dialogue with residents. The purpose of Tuesday’s open house was to give them a chance to meet with the development team and shape the vision for the project by offering input on design and architecture.

“We don’t have a plan drafted yet, because we want to make sure the community is engaged in the process,” Bartone told the Herald last month. “We want to meet with our neighbors and talk with them. At the end of the day, tearing down the Capri motel, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

He added that developers “heard loud and clear” that the Cornerstone plans were too large, and that they have also heard the outcry stemming from the Capri. He has been trying to build luxury apartments in the village since 2011.

Several administrations have tried in vain to coax the Capri owners to sell the site for many years. In 2017, then Mayor William Hendrick created a panel, made up of village officials, that hosted several hearings with the motel owners in the hope of gathering enough evidence to have their room-rental license revoked. After Hendrick died in October 2017, Beach and former Village Attorney Peter Ledwith remained on the case. Last November, village officials unanimously voted to revoke the licenses, but the owners appealed the decision to the Lynbrook Zoning Board before negotiating a private sale to Bartone.

In 2017, Capri Manager Joe Pizzuto said that village officials’ claims about prostitution at the motel were unfounded. “There’s no prostitution there,” he said. “There’s nothing going on.”

The village board did not mention the Capri sale or open house at Monday’s board meeting. However, it did unanimously adopt a resolution for more transparency at the request of a committee that Beach formed to tackle the issue. The recommendations included communicating with residents about potential projects that exceed 25,000 square feet on all available platforms, including the village’s website and TV channel and social media outlets.

Though he did not raise the subject of the Capri at the meeting, Beach told the Herald afterward that he had heard only positive feedback from residents.

“I’ve been approached everywhere I go that they’re so happy that the Capri is going,” he said. “They can’t believe that our team got it done.”

For updates on the project, visit www.teardowncapri.com.