Will another one bite the dust?
The oldest family-run hotel in the village of Greenport, NY, on Long Island’s North Fork could soon make way for a “Hamptons style” luxury resort, one of the owners of Silver Sands Motel & Beach Cottages told The Post.
Terry Keefe, 51, said that his grandparents opened the quaint motel in 1957 but that a developer now plans to remodel the 36-room property and it’s tearing his family apart.
Keefe’s aunt, Darline Jurzenia, 70, recently sold her minority stake in the business after the passing of her husband to Thunderbowl Capital, a New York City development company led by Alexander Perros, who has also acquired the hotel’s debt. Thunderbowl now owns half of the business.
Jurzenia won’t say how much she was paid for her shares but she’s extremely grateful to Perros.
“He’s an angel,” Jurzenia told The Post, noting that she wanted out because the business was a mess, losing money and in a state of disrepair. “I’m trying to put my life back together.”
But to Keefe, Perros is an investor from hell. He said that thanks to the deal, he and his 73-year-old mother Jean Jurzenia Burden are being pressured to transform the hotel into a luxury escape or go out of business.
“We never charged more than $200 for a night,” Keefe said, noting that most Greenport hotels charge double that rate. “This is old North Fork. People come to the waterfront property to relax and go to the beach.”
Set on 36 acres along Peconic Bay, the property is home to ospreys and egrets, a huge beach, 15 acres of wetlands and a novelty railroad track that often features model trains. It’s been the location of many fashion and movie shoots over the years and a nostalgic retreat for loyal locals.
But more recently, it’s faced financial hardships.
In March 2021, Keefe issued an official complaint to the United States District Court Eastern District of New York. In it, he alleges his blind, elderly mother was pressured into signing multiple mortgages on the motel and residential properties “for the purposes of converting such mortgage proceeds into profits for Defendants and other non-parties.”
In all, he claims his mother took out seven mortgages and was swindled by an attorney out of $3 million dollars.
To save the hotel and get out of debt, Keefe considered offers from investors, including Perros. Keefe claims that Perrros offered him $18 million for the hotel but when the deal fell through, he allegedly used proprietary financial information to target his aunt’s stake and the hotel’s debt, thereby violating a January 2020 NDA agreement.
“He promised he would never do such a thing, but he bought out the mortgage debt,” Keefe said.
Perros denies those allegations, telling The Post that his company did nothing untoward.
“Our group purchased a 50 percent interest in the motel corporation a few weeks ago,” Perros said. “As part of that process, we also ended up paying off a large piece of the motel’s debt so the investment could be protected.”
However, neither Perros nor his partner chef Ryan Hardy of Delicious Hospitality Group would comment on their vision for Silver Sands. Jurzenia, on the other hand, said that she would like to see the hotel get a “Ralph Lauren vibe” — even if that means raising rates and losing some long-time customers.
“It’s fun when you find a place for $150 a night when every other place is $300,” Jurzenia said, “but it’s not good for business.”
Keefe responded in early May by releasing a video on Vimeo, titled “Stealing Silver Sands.” which tells the story of the motel’s history and addresses what Keefe sees as the dark cloud hovering over it. He said the video — since deleted — was meant to share what the hotel means to the community and his family.
“We’re still here,” Burden said in the video. “We want to be here.”