When Mohammad Jan and his daughters, Esha and Maha, stepped inside the wrecked Best Western, they didn’t see vandalized ruins, just possibilities.
Mr. Jan, who owns and operates the Grand Roosevelt Ballroom, an event and catering space in Yonkers, closed on the Cobleskill landmark last Wednesday.
With his family’s help, he plans to restore all 70-plus rooms, the restaurant, pool, and even the bowling alley; Monday’s visit was the first step.
While Mr. Jan and his daughters waited for a work crew and dumpsters to arrive—and for Code Enforcement Officers Mike Piccolo and Joe Nelson to pry open the doors—he talked about those plans.
“We are very excited to be here and be doing this,” Mr. Jan said.
“We’re going to bring back everything people remember…We’re going to make it a center of the community again as well as a place for people traveling through to enjoy.”
Esha and Maha—along with the rest of their siblings—grew up working in the Grand Roosevelt.
Both are of graduates of Manhattan College. Esha will be attending Pace University in the fall to study law; Maha, who just graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, may put her plans for a master’s degree on hold so she can dive into rehabbing the Best Western, hands-on.
“We know this is something the community’s missed and we’re excited to be part of bringing it back,” Esha said.
Plan may even include growing what was once Top of the Town into a venue for weddings, banquets, Sweet 16 parties, and some of the other events—boxing maybe?—the Jans have hosted in Yonkers.
“It’s so beautiful here…it was a wonderful drive up, and we’re looking forward to being a part of the community,” Maha said; while her sister had been to Cobleskill before, it was Maha’s first visit.
Another sister is still in high school. With finals, Monday, she couldn’t come, her sisters said.
Another sister and three brothers—who have also grown up in the Grand Roosevelt—and their mother make up the rest of their family.
Around the back of the Best Western, Mr. Piccolo and Mr. Nelson worked with crews to pry off the plywood put in place to keep the vandals who destroyed the interior.
Once it was open, they took the Jans inside while the work crew went to work filling the first dumpster.
One of their next steps will be to get the power turned back on, Mr. Jan said; Monday, they made their way through the trashed hallways, littered with broken glass, forgotten menus, and trash through the restaurant to the bowling alley and pools using flashlights and headlamps.
Pretty much undaunted.
“Yes, it will be a lot of work, but we’re excited to get going on this,” Mr. Jan said. “We’re excited to finaly be here, doing this.”
Outside the Best Western, Cobleskill Supervisor Werner Hampel, who helped pull together the sale and a deal with Schoharie County that will forgive back taxes as the Jans hit agreed-on project milestones, said he was excited too.
“This is going to make such a difference,” he said.