Pan American Hotel sale could be nearing its finish

A deal for the seven-story, 216-room Pan American Hotel closes next week. Photo by Bill Parry
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The sale of the iconic Pan American Hotel is expected to be completed next week.

Tom Donovan, the managing director at the real estate firm of Massey Knakal, could not discuss the deal for the seven-story, 86,500-square-foot hotel until the closing. The 216-room hotel at 7900 Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst has been fueling speculation in the neighborhood for weeks.

“A Chinese corporation bought it and wants to convert it into a shelter for the homeless,” said Newtown Civic Association president Thomas McKenzie.

“I hear the same thing,” Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “But no one’s come to talk to me officially about it. I have found that no variances have been applied for, yet.”

The Pan American Hotel is owned by the Panamendel Corporation and its general manager, Joel Butnick, was not available for comment. Four documents were filed with the city Monday saying the mortgages have been satisfied, a sign that a sale is nearing completion.

“I don’t think it will be a good thing for this community,” McKenzie said. “The people that come to these are transient people. I know they need a place to live, but why is it always here in Community Board 4?”

“We haven’t heard anything official, but it’s a huge topic in the neighborho­od,” CB 2 Chairman Christian Cassagnol said. “It would be a perfect location for a shelter, but it will be difficult to get it done. People are paranoid because of what’s happening in Glendale.”

Elected officials and neighbors rallied last month against the city’s plan to transform a vacant sewing mill and airplane part manufacturing plant in Glendale into a shelter for 125 families called Samaritan Village.

Lisa Black, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeless Services, said her agency has not been made aware of the new developers plans for Elmhurst.

“We don’t have any proposal yet, but they’d notify the community board first,” she said.

McKenzie knew the Pan American Hotel’s days were numbered when a half dozen small motels started popping up along Queens Boulevard in the last decade.

“Back in its hey-day it was quite a place,” he said. “The Tito Puente Orchestra was the house band every Thursday night in the Pan American Lounge during the mid-Seventies. People would come from all over the tristate to see Tito and they’d just stay overnight in the hotel. I’m sorry to see it go.” he said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry e-mail at or by phone at 718.260.4538.

Updated 10:01 am, February 2, 2014
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Reader feedback

Paulo from Brazil says:
Very Sad about it. Loved this hotel.
March 4, 2014, 11:23 pm
Aveline from yes says:
It's so sad the pan American hotel close turn it into a homeless shelter. Someone should definitely buy the building and turn it to something besides a homeless shelter
Nov. 4, 2014, 11:45 am
aveline from Queens blvd says:
What is going to happen to the Pan American hotel? I love that hotel. It was one of the best hotel better then the other hotel on queens blvd. Someone should buy this building and turn it to something besides a homeless shelter. Our neighborhood don't need a homeless shelter. I wish I can buy the building. Lol.
Nov. 4, 2014, 11:53 am
Rocky Morales from Florida says:
This sale out property is really sad, in 70 and 80' decades was one of the best hotels in Queens, a couple of blocks away a restaurant was adapted to be Mc Dowells fast food restaurant for the movie Coming to America, I work for this Hotel for 10 great Years,, We host The Cargo China Airlines crew, Transworld Airlines TWA, and for many Years before they were to Manhattan KLM, also we host at this hotel luminaries from south America, that they came to perform at Chib-Cha Restaurant located in Roosevelt Avenue and a lot of people that had business base in this Area. So. this location should be save as a monument to the example of the community grow.
May 17, 2015, 5:14 pm

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