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North Hempstead considers proposal for first 'boatel' in Port Washington

Port Washington, short on hotels, may now welcome its first "boatel."

The Town of North Hempstead is considering letting developers add "boatels" to mixed-use projects in the business waterfront zoning district. The change would allow a new class of housing -- "boatels" -- to attract out-of-town boaters who moor their vessels in the bay.

One is being proposed for Port Washington, part of a $25 million condominium complex for buyers ages 62 and over, and facing Manhasset Bay. It would be the town's first boatel, defined as "a hotel on a waterfront with docks for use by boaters."

Under the town code, the complex must have an additional component, and the town for this project allows only retail, office, and restaurant space to be added to the lowest floor. However, residents had expressed concerns about adding another restaurant to Main Street, filled with eateries and private yacht clubs.

Developer Cord Meyer Development Co. has proposed adding six hotel rooms to the 32-unit condo building, called the The Knickerbocker Bay Club. Workers are putting the finishing touches on the complex, set to open next month and where units are selling for $590,000 to $3 million.

The site is the former location of a 135-year-old institution, the Knickerbocker Yacht Club, which had been located there from 1907 to 2009. The club was demolished in 2012.

"You would get off your boat, spend a night or two in a motel room, and go on your merry way," said Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio, who represents the area.

Anthony Colletti, chief operating officer for the developer, said "we tried to come up with a commercial use that would be attractive."

The proposed boatel would be built on a 2,000-square-foot space on the complex. The town today plans to set a public hearing next month for the code change.

Developers say the boatel rooms, if approved, would resemble one-room efficiencies. Boatels -- or variations of them -- exist on Long Island, and the term is defined and listed in various town municipal codes.

De Giorgio said there is a shortage of hotels or projects in the works in Port Washington. "There's really a need for that all year round," she said.

Ground broke on the project in August 2012, but construction was delayed by superstorm Sandy, company consultant Guy Warren said. Concrete and steel in the underground parking garage had to be removed and rebuilt after flood damage.

De Giorgio said she hopes the boatels are approved and jolts the community. "A boatel doesn't compete with the other restaurants; a boatel brings other customers."

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