The Real Deal New York

DOB orders Chetrit to halt work at Hotel Chelsea

Workers knocked out gas, heat and hot water at property

March 22, 2013 06:30PM
By David Jones

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From left: Christine Quinn, Hotel Chelsea, Joseph Chetrit

UPDATED, 12:04 p.m., March 23: The city Department of Buildings ordered Joseph Chetrit to stop work at the Hotel Chelsea late Friday night, in response to a construction incident that knocked out gas, heat and hot water at the property — and a day after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn demanded an immediate shutdown of construction.

DOB inspectors, along with officials from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, ConEdison and the Fire Department of New York swarmed the building at 222 West 23rd Street on Friday, after tenants complained to Quinn’s office and other officials about the collapse of essential services at the property.

“HPD will be issuing violations for no heat and hot water and no gas as these conditions have not yet been addressed by ownership,” a city official, who asked not to be identified, told The Real Deal.

The incident is the latest in a series of problems since Chetrit acquired the property in 2011 for $79 million and began a controversial renovation to transform the fabled building — which has long been home to artists, writers and low-income tenants — into a King and Grove branded hotel. Hotel Chelsea operated as a hotel under previous owner Stanley Bard, but had about 100 mosty rent-stabilized residents.

Chetrit was out of the office and could not immediately comment, according to a company official.

A spokesperson for King and Grove said the inspections were “in the ordinary course of construction activities ongoing at the hotel,” but was not immediately available to comment after the stop work order was issued.

Quinn, whose district includes the property, fired off a letter to Chetrit late yesterday, alleging that contractors “locked the meter and shut down gas service” to the building.

According to ConEdison, plumbers accidentally knocked out gas when doing work without prior authorization from the utility. A spokesperson for ConEdison told The Real Deal that gas would not be restored until the owners take several additional steps to improve conditions.

A spokesman for the FDNY said no emergency personnel were at the scene, but could not comment on civilian employees or other non-emergency officials. DOB officials were not immediately available for comment.

Quinn, in her letter, reminded Chetrit of an outstanding violation from the New York City Environmental Control Board, issued after construction workers broke through a tenant’s ceiling.

“You must stop this blatant harassment of your tenants,” Quinn wrote.

Samuel Himmelstein, an attorney representing the tenants in a lawsuit over the conditions, said he planned to head back into court next week to file a contempt motion against the owners. He said Friday night that heat and hot water  had been restored after the heating source was switched from a gas-powered to an electric-powered source.

Tenants told The Real Deal they will continue to fight against what they consider harassment to get them to leave the building.

“This is not a joke and this is not a game for us,” said Zoey Pappas, head of the building’s tenants association, which represents more than half the property’s rent-stabilized residents.

  • Common Sense

    these idiot tenants don’t make any sense – they want their lives to go back to normal yet all day and night they sit around figuring out ways to slow down the progress. I’m glad they were dumb enough to get Quinn involved – this will force them to live in a construction zone for many more months.

    • Dewey

      Cherit is using his customary method of harassing tenants in his previous buildings. He and his management has refused to deal with the tenant honestly, ignoring their helth and safety by hauling out asbestos by cheap day laborers, endangering the workers with carcinogenic dust all over the building. Cherit is not some ordinary landlord, he owns major properties all over the city including the Chipendale topped Sony building. I give the tenants kudos for standing up to this man who thinks he owns the world. Don’t cast blame on the tenants but a oligarch who thinks he is above the law by using ununionized laborers who know nothing about construction or demolition. But the blame is on Cherit who has ordered the gas, water, heat turned of all at the same time knowing Con Ed can’t turn on the gas until the extensive pipes are inspected in the entire building before a turn back on, taking at least weeks or a month. I suspect Cherit will have the gas turned off again in the future to harass the tenants. He is a criminal mafia type.
      Dewey, not a Chelsea tenant.

  • pro business voter

    Quinn winning the election will slow the growth and drop the real estate prices 10% at least.

  • Dollars and Sense

    Those stabilized tenants aren’t going anywhere.
    Chetrit should smarten up.
    This is a very famous place.

    Yes, things will be different under Quinn-or any of the others.

    If you can’t afford some stabilized tenants…

    MAYBE YOU SHOULDN”T BUY THE BUILDING.

    • alpha

      Declare that you are turning it into a 1 family and toss out everybody now.

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