At long last, the Courtesy Hotel has come down.
The notorious West Hempstead hotel lay in piles of rubble last week following its demolition, which marked the end of a decade-long fight to rid the hamlet of the seedy, crime-ridden building.
Hundreds of community residents, cameras in hand, joined civic leaders and town, county and state legislators at around 11:30 a.m. on May 12 on a vacant property adjacent to the hotel to watch as a backhoe tore it apart.
Dozens of media outlets showed up to document the long-awaited demolition. People cheered, congratulated one another and exchanged stories about their unwanted encounters with hotel patrons. They recounted the history of the Courtesy and how it blighted their community — bringing in prostitution, drugs and other crimes, posing a threat to the safety of area residents, increasing crime and diminishing home values.
But they also celebrated the potential growth in West Hempstead once a new development — the Alexan at West Hempstead Station — is constructed on the site.
“My face is tired from smiling,” said Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Community Support Association and a leader in the fight to close the Courtesy. “[I’m] delighted, exhilarated — I mean, every adjective you could think of. This is, like, the culmination of a very long journey for the residents of West Hempstead. I can’t be happier for all the … efforts they put into it because this isn’t one individual, this is a group of people living in the community who came together that wanted the same thing and we fought for it.”
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray echoed Norton’s sentiments, saying it was high time the hotel was demolished. “Today is a victory all around,” Murray said. “I’m so excited for the residents of West Hempstead. At long last we’re going to get this absolutely blighted source of criminality out of our neighborhood. West Hempstead has suffered for a long time with this hotel.”