A heap of construction materials was all that remained of a long-abandoned Amityville motel, and on Monday an excavator began scooping up the debris to make way for a new office building.
The former Sayonara Motel was the site of two fires in the past five years, including one that killed a man in December 2014. The dilapidated structure had sat vacant since then, and a second fire in October 2018 reduced the building to rubble.
The Babylon Industrial Development Agency closed on the property at 831 Broadway, just south of the Southern State Parkway, on July 11, purchasing it for $710,000 from owner Parkway Hospitality Group LLC.
The Babylon IDA, a public authority that grants tax breaks to projects with industrial uses or workforce housing and that create or retain jobs, is discussing uses for the property with the business community, including possibly creating a co-working office space, IDA CEO Tom Dolan said.
Parkway Hospitality Group LLC had purchased the property from the Sayonara Motel owner after the 2014 fire, hoping to build a new motel, said Vincent Ansanelli, Parkway’s Amityville-based lawyer. But town zoning requirements proved difficult, and Parkway decided not to pursue it.
The second fire in 2018 “basically was the death knell for moving forward for redevelopment,” Ansanelli said.
Since then, the IDA decided to buy the lot and possibly build a work space for local entrepreneurs.
“This has been something that the community has been complaining about for many years,” Dolan said Monday as crews were cleaning up the lot. “We look at economic development as a holistic approach, and this property had a negative impact [on] the community [as a] whole.”
Frank Dolan, the IDA's vice president and Tom Dolan’s brother, had said previously that there were “all kinds of historic negative connotations” with the former motel, including prostitution, drug dealing and a gathering place for the homeless.
Viscel Moore, director of the Town of Babylon beautification program, is a North Amityville resident and applauded the site’s cleanup and planned development.
“This site has been less than desirable for several years now and the site of unwanted behavior,” she said.
National Grid gave the IDA an economic development grant of about $36,000 to help with the cleanup, including for asbestos removal, said National Grid representative Lyle Sclair.
Babylon-based Castleton Environmental is doing the asbestos removal and cleanup, which Tom Dolan estimated to cost $140,000, with the rest coming from the IDA budget.