Cheyenne Diner in a (scrap) heap of trouble

January 12, 2009 at 1:23 am Leave a comment

The landmark Cheyenne Diner might end up a pile of scrap metal instead of reopening across the East River after all.

A deal to move the nearly 70-year-old diner on 33rd St. and Ninth Ave. to Brooklyn appears to have fallen through nearly nine months after the owner negotiated to sell it to a developer on the condition he resurrect it on the Red Hook waterfront.

Chelsea Now broke the news on Jan. 2 that Cheyenne buyer Michael O’Connell was unable to transport the 100-foot-long structure via bridge due to its size, forcing him to look at the alternative of moving it by barge through New York Harbo

Preservationist Michael Perlman, who brokered the original deal between Papas and O’Connell to save the structure, released a statement on Jan. 9 explaining the Cheyenne was back on the market “on the condition that it be transported off the property ASAP, or the diner will be demolished within the next few weeks.”

While O’Connell has remained mum on his current plan, Perlman’s statement indicates that the developer is now out of the picture.

“As of this week, Cheyenne Diner owner Mike O’Connell’s plans have been abandoned since the diner wouldn’t fit across the Manhattan Bridge via a flatbed, and the next option, transporting it by barge, proved three times as costly as traditional figures a year ago,” Perlman wrote. “The best route towards the diner’s future salvation is the George Washington Bridge, amongst a few others, but the GW route didn’t connect to Red Hook, Brooklyn. It was difficult to access Red Hook due to its location.”

O’Connell did not respond to requests for comment, but Papas said the deadline for removing the diner had moved up because of his planned construction of a nine-story residential building on the current Cheyenne property.

“I was really relying on him taking it, because I gave him as much time as he needed,” Papas said on Friday, Jan. 9, nearly nine months to the day after he agreed to sell it to O’Connell. “I don’t know why he was holding out so long to come to this conclusion.”

Perlman now hopes a new buyer will step in—O’Connell only put down a $1,000 deposit for the diner after negotiating to buy it for $5,000—and Perlman added that he has already received inquiries from potential buyers in New York, Michigan, Alabama and Utah.

“While the Cheyenne can potentially land a good home out of state, many patrons are praying that a NY-based buyer will contact [Perlman] at, so it can ideally remain closer to its roots than the Moondance Diner in Wyoming,” which Perlman also helped save save by brokering a deal to relocate it.

Papas plans to meet with O’Connell over the weekend to discuss the issue, and he will then sit down with his architect, attorney and construction crew next week to discuss the timeline for construction of the new building.

“I’m in a rough situation here,” Papas admitted, adding that his goal all along was to find a buyer willing to preserve the diner. “When I did sign the contract, [O’Connell] was supposed to take it within a month… I feel like he’s dragging me along and wasting my time, because I could have found someone else.”

By Patrick Hedlund
Chelsea Now


Entry filed under: Brooklyn, Dive In, Go Coastal, Manhattan.

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