Dozens of residents circulated around a room full of tables at the Lynbrook Knights of Columbus on Aug. 20, when they had the chance to ask questions of, and offer suggestions to, the developers of an apartment complex planned for the site of the Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn.
Developer Anthony Bartone, of the Farmingdale-based Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, fielded questions and listened to the opinions of residents who live near the site. Bartone came to an agreement with the owners of the Capri to buy the motel and proposed the construction of apartments, but the project is contingent on the village board’s approval. Until then, the Capri will continue to operate.
And before plans for the complex are drawn up, Bartone and his team are meeting with residents to gather their input. Given the Capri’s history, including several drug overdose deaths and arrests for prostitution and assault, many who live near the motel said they were excited about the proposal — including Anthony Artusa, who lives on Roxy Place.
“I’m all for it if it’s three stories or less,” Artusa said at the open house. “We don’t want it to tower over our house, but I like the fact that it’s luxury.”
Artusa said he hasn’t had many issues with the Capri, but added that he would be happy to see it go. Entela Shena and Gus Psillis, who both live on Norman Street, expressed similar sentiments, but noted that they have several questions.
“We’re concerned about parking spaces, and if it will be bigger than three stories,” Shena said. “If residents have guests coming over, that’s also going to impact parking.”
Psillis said he had some concerns about the apartments being rentals. “To us, it’s better to buy, but I guess it doesn’t matter if they’re going to be luxury,” he said, adding that he was pleased the developers were gathering feedback before finalizing plans.
Dr. Alan Baum said he has lived near the Capri for nearly five decades and hasn’t had many issues with it. He lauded the Lynbrook Police Department for keeping area residents safe, but echoed many others’ concerns.
“I do have a concern about parking,” Baum said. “I’ve lived in the village for 47 years, and we’ve had issues. . . . I was more concerned with the plans for parking than the exteriors of this building, and I feel that’s more crucial. Before I can approve it, I need to know what’s going to go down with the parking.”
Village officials have sought to redevelop the site for years. In 2017, then Mayor William Hendrick formed a committee of elected officials, which eventually voted to revoke the Capri owners’ room-rental licenses. The owners appealed the decision to the village zoning board before facilitating the sale to Bartone, who has wanted to build a development in Lynbrook since 2011.
Capri General Manager Harry Wagner said the claims against the hotel were unfounded, but added that he planned to work with the village to finalize the sale to Bartone.
“Although the Village of Lynbrook tried to revoke our permit for alleged code violations, they have never won a decision or a case against us for any of these alleged violations in a court of law,” Wagner said. “We are open for business until maybe the end of the year.”
Bartone’s previous project, dubbed the Cornerstone at Lynbrook, was rejected last November because of its scope and what residents said was a lack of information about the project. The proposal was also the focus in a hotly contested political race between Mayor Alan Beach and current Trustee Hilary Becker, and Bartone said he decided it would be best to meet with community members before moving forward with his next proposal.
At the open house, boards were set up where residents could write suggestions about what they want — and don’t want — to see at the site. They offered a range of comments, from the building’s style to concerns about its size, amenities and parking. Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, a Northport-based nonprofit smart-growth advocacy group that promotes downtown redevelopment, set up a table and spoke about similar projects in other neighborhoods that were a boon to the local downtowns. Residents also were able to browse architectural styles, and were offered informational packets about other developments that Terwilliger & Bartone has built.
Bartone said that the purpose of the information session was to reduce negativity and misinformation, which he said was spread about Cornerstone. “We want to do things a lot better than they’ve been done in the past,” he said. “We don’t want to bring a proposal and then have everybody feel like they didn’t know what’s going on or what’s happening.”
Bartone said he was “proud and excited” about the firm’s plan to demolish the Capri, and emphasized that no proposal would be made until his team had gone through the feedback from the open house. He said he hoped to bring a proposal before the village board by September, and to present it to residents at a public hearing in October.
Chamber of Commerce President Steve Wangel said he supported the project, and hoped the open house would help people learn more about the development. “These types of sessions allow for community input,” Wangel said. “They allow for people to feel better about this and not listen to the misinformation that they’re hearing.”
For updates on the project, visit www.teardowncapri.com.