The owners of an East Hampton motel that has served as an apartment building for several immigrant families is evicting its tenants as part of plans to turn the facility into a hotel, immigrant advocates said.
The Inn at East Hampton took eight families to East Hampton Justice Court on Aug. 14 for not vacating the 20-unit motel by July 31, the last date permitted by eviction notices sent out June 5.
Attorney William Shapiro, who represents the East Hampton Hotel LLC, said tenants are being evicted solely so the building can be renovated into “an amazing hotel.”
“We gave ample time and concessions to vacate and find other suitable housing, and unfortunately that didn’t happen,” Shapiro said. “To try to resolve this, we had to go to court.”
According to court records, five families’ cases are set to go to trial in mid-September with the aim of extending their stays. One family was given until Sept. 1 to move out, under a settlement agreement that requires them to pay $2,675 for rent and a forfeited security deposit. Two other cases were dismissed because the families had already vacated the units.
Advocates present at the court hearings said the families are immigrants who stayed at the motel because they had nowhere else they could afford to go during the summer, when area rent prices skyrocket. They do not have attorneys.
“It’s tough. A lot of the families, they were afraid,” said Minerva Perez, executive director of the nonprofit Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island. “They’re not sure where they’re going next.”
The motel, which appeared vacant Wednesday, is owned by Hampton Land Corporation, though it may have been leased out, Suffolk County records show.
Hampton Land Corporation, which is owned by Alex Demetriades, paid $15,000 in fines in January after the fire marshal’s office found 61 code violations in June 2016, when the motel was known as 27 Inn, Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski said.
Advocates said the court cases highlight the area’s lack of affordable housing and the fear many immigrants have in today’s political climate.
“There’s a lot of crisis points happening in our community at the same time,” Perez said. “It’s not sustainable.”