Ding dong, the motel is dead.
A controversial plan to open what many feared would be a “hot sheet” motel, near a busy intersection in Springfield Gardens, right across the street from a high school complex, has been killed and a strip mall will be constructed instead.
Residents have been fighting for six years to put the kibosh on what could have been a charge-by-the-hour facility on North Conduit Avenue, about 70 feet from the Springfield Gardens Educational Campus, which houses four high schools. They believed it would be a haven for prostitution and other illegal activity.
“We have stood firm on this issue,” City Councilman James Sanders Jr. said at the construction site on Wednesday. “I am glad to say that we have been given confidence that we are not going to get a hot sheet motel. No. We are going to get the strip mall that we have been fighting for, and that is a sign if a community stays together, if you stay united, you can see a thing through. You can make it happen.”
Residents, led by community activist Mike Duncan, filed a lawsuit to block the property owner, Sailesh Ghandi, from moving ahead, stating that the establishment would not only attract an unsavory element to the neighborhood, but that Ghandi had failed to meet the city’s deadline to finish the foundation of the building in accordance with a zoning variance he was granted.
“It is a beautiful day for our community,” Duncan said. “I have to thank everybody who helped in this process.”
Some believed Ghandi would try to demonstrate that he had a common-law right to build, meaning that he had made a significant financial investment in the construction of the motel and therefore should be allowed to continue the work. But now those fears have been allayed because the property has been sold and residents can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Construction workers were at the site Wednesday morning putting up a barricade around the property to make sure it is safe and secure while the development is being built.
“When I saw the work going on, I thought they were going to build that motel, and I was so happy to hear that they weren’t,” said James Gulston, president of the SpringGar Civic Association. “I was definitely concerned, and the community was definitely concerned, that a hot sheet motel would be opening here.”