The Real Deal New York

Imperial Court owner claims de Blasio nixed shelter plan

But spokesperson says mayor had no hand in rejection of conversion plan for 307 West 79th

April 07, 2014 01:26PM

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Imperial-Court-Hotel

307 West 79th Street

Ron Edelstein, owner of the Imperial Court Hotel at 307 West 79th Street, accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of ordering the Department of Homeless Services to reject his plan to convert the site into a homeless shelter. A de Blasio spokesperson denied the claim, calling it “categorically false.”

Edelstein claims that a high-ranking agency official informed him of the mayor’s alleged order. Under Edelstein’s plan, the 227-room hotel would be transformed to hold 340 homeless people in 170 rooms. The city would not fund the conversion, but would instead pay nearly $18 million per year to cover staff, food and other services for each person in the shelter.

Last month, the Department of Homeless Services sent Edelstein a rejection letter that said the project “does not fit with the agency’s priorities.” Assembly member Linda Rosenthal and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer both oppose the project.

“These shelters have been used as cash cows without delivering suitable services or assistance to the homeless and as a means for slumlords to harass the remaining permanent tenants,” Rosenthal wrote in a letter, cited by the New York Post. [NYP]Mark Maurer

  • totally baffled

    that’s very weird news since there is a bill being proposed to protect tenants … but homeless people are out of luck even though their situation is more dire.

  • DanielPL

    This building is not a hotel, it is an SRO whose residents are rent-stabilized tenants. Edelstein has attempted to use the building illegally as a hotel and harassed many of the tenants to try to get them to leave. He should absolutely not be rewarded with a lucrative shelter contract. I’m glad the City said NO.

    • details please

      so it’s personal at the expense of the homeless or are you saying that these contracts overpay? Is there proof or just tenant testimony that they were harassed and that he has committed illegal acts?

      • DanielPL

        You can see for yourself here:

        https://webapps.hpdnyc.org/HPDonline/provide_address.aspx

        Enter the address and go to Litigation/Caste status on the left. You will see the owner was denied a CONH (Certification of No Harassment).

        It’s not at the expense of the homeless that the owner should not get the shelter contract. Harassing the tenants out will make homelessness worse, not better. This is a building where rents are quite low because it is an SRO and it is rent-stabilized. It serves precisely the type of population most at risk of becoming homeless, without costing the taxpayer a dime. Kick those people out and you will make them homeless. They might be back in the next day if the place becomes a shelter, only without the legal protections they have as tenants and at a very high cost to the taxpayer. The only winner in that scenario would be the owner.

        • zero tolerance for owners

          can’t see the details so being sued by tenants who may be committing perjury en masse (very interesting re future credibility) doesn’t mean someone is bad but getting badmouthed to the administration by powerful tenant advocates with no interest in the truth or fairplay would be very interesting and it may be why this slumlord is putting his neck out and making public is concern that he got turned down.

          It’s shady if he is unpopular with tenant advocates because of tenant rumormongering and the city isn’t willing to hear his side of things. He might have proof that the charges against his character are inaccurate.

          • fair play for owners PLS

            It also is weird that the city itself is acknowledging that these contracts are “lucrative” as if it’s kind of something you have to quid pro quo for in some way – either being a crony who talks the talk a la Los Sures.

            http://nypost.com/2014/04/03/city-council-wipes-housing-groups-tax-bills/

            http://media.crainsnewyork.com/videos/show/3385688362001/the-view-on-real-estate-rebnys-steven-spinola-discusses-taxes

            Everything is blamed on property owners in this city and reported for the entire planet to see. This site gets plenty of hits from overseas, correct?

            but collaborating with foreign terrorists barely gets a nod outside the confines of its own city:

            http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ff-money-behind-leland-yee-20140403,0,1645248.story#axzz2yJDAUxmE

          • DanielPL

            I hear you, but in a CONH proceeding you go in front of an administrative law judge who hears both sides and the parties can be represented by counsel. The judge interprets the law and in this case found that the landlord harassed the tenants. Also, note that a CONH hearing is triggered by the landlord’s application for a CONH, not by a tenant complaint.

          • need details on CONH

            I would have to have rolled out my audiotapes if the judge hadn’t wiped the fines because the tenant advocate intentionally sent everything except the final notice to the wrong address. All the tenants had called me at one time or another so that I was getting a different caller on a DAILY basis until they started the lawsuit and then it was total silence and they all committed perjury that they had been denied communication.

            If someone from law enforcement who grew up in this ethnic enclave hadn’t come over earlier and said start taping, we would have lost our building that day in court. No one let me say anything after I uttered “Helen, that’s not true.” to the tenant advocate who had seen me days earlier on the street and I greeted her not knowing what had happened and that she was involved.

          • the truth will out

            I could have proved our innocence but the lawyer said it would be too time consuming however I bet we are just as badmouthed as this landlord by the tenants and the powerful tenant advocacy group because in our neighborhood, the conspiracy runs deep and brazen and has not gone unnoticed. It’s kind of wild but I am sad to see it possibly pervade the city.

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