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Playland Motel in Rockaway Beach to close; DHS renting rooms to shelter homeless families

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ROCKAWAY BEACH, Queens — Playland Motel in Rockaway Beach will be shutting its doors in November and rooms will be rented to the Department of Homeless Services to shelter homeless families.

The trendy hotel on Rockaway Beach Boulevard that opened in 2013 will be closing on Nov. 1, DNAinfo first reported on Friday. DHS spokesman Lauren Gray confirmed that the department was renting rooms at Playland Motel, but assured there are no further plans.

“There are no plans to convert this location into a shelter," Gray said in a statement to PIX11 News. "We are currently renting rooms in this location to help meet our legal and moral obligation to shelter homeless families with children.”

The Playland bar and restaurant are also facing the same fate. Dan Cipriani, the current manager, released a statement that was shared on Facebook:

"Hi all as you may have heard I am closing the Playland Grill , mainly, due to loss of the back yard I feel now is time to make a graceful exit from the property with my bank account and good name in tact. I will be around for the next couple of months transitioning out of the space. Oct 31 will be our last day open, Please drop on by and say hello, my love for the Rockaways ,surfing and fishing will keep me around the neighborhood, so no need to say goodbye."

"All future operations and decisions will be handled by Cayuga Capital," Cipriani told DNAinfo.

The hotel was described by the New York Times when it first opened as a "hopping bar scene populated by the sort of young, well-coiffed life forms." Three years later, however, the restaurant and bar's backyard was forced to be closed by summertime enforcement from multiple agencies, DNAinfo reported.

The rooms are meant to provide a "stopgap" for homeless families as winter approaches, giving them time before they are placed in a permanent shelter. But not everyone who currently live in the neighborhood are on board with the plan.

"I'm not really sure what's going to happen, but I know it's not right," a woman who works at Playland Motel told PIX11 News. "Not that we're against low income or debilitated housing situation. We know that, we live in Rockaway. But we're afraid we have been sold out, in a sense."

The DHS was met with strong opposition and protests from the Maspeth, Queens residents when it announced the Holiday Inn Express would be turned into a full homeless shelter. The city eventually dropped the change, but said it will house homeless men. Locals were still furious homeless men were snuck in without any notification.