Suit alleges toxic dust at Quin Hotel site

By Zachary Kussin | January 31, 2013 07:00PM

The Quin is one of New York’s most anticipated new hotels of the year. But one 97-year-old woman is alleging that the conversion of the property, located at 101 West 57th Street, is causing her emotional distress.

In court filings, Sylvia Ader contends that unsafe construction activity has resulted in damage to her rent-stabilized unit in the former Buckingham Hotel. She also said that she fears getting sick as a result of conditions inside the 18-story, 86-year-old tower, which has residential and hotel components. Five other tenants are suing the landlord over construction practices in the building, Ader’s lawyer, Jack Lester, told The Real Deal.

Ader’s suit states that she has been exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic substances, such as asbestos, lead and gypsym. According to Lester and to a tenant in the building who declined to be named for fear of repercussions from the landlord, building residents have intermittently fallen ill due to exposure to these chemicals in the form of cough- nausea- and dizziness-inducing dust clouds.

“A 97-year-old woman shouldn’t be exposed to it,” Lester said.

Both Lester and Robert Ader, Sylvia’s son, say that the plaintiff has not suffered symptoms from breathing in the dust. However, they say that whether there are long-term impacts remains to be seen.

As previously reported, this group of tenants, who rejected offers to be bought out, commissioned their own report on air quality in the building, which uncovered asbestos and lead mixed in with dust, as well as high levels of crystalline silica. However, city agencies have concluded that there have been no major health or safety violations as of December 2011, according to previous reports. The woman said that conditions at the property have since worsened.

Ader’s son claims that building conditions can indirectly be blamed for the deterioration in his mother’s health. He said that due to low heat in the building, his mother tripped while walking to the radiator and broke her shoulder. He also said that the loss of an elevator has kept Ader in her home like “a prisoner.” The freight elevator, used by contractors, is open to tenants, but located in a stairway that has a sudden drop. As Ader is blind in one eye, her son said she is unable to leave her unit.

Ader’s own unit, the suit contends, has also been infiltrated by the dust.

“They obviously have not been instructed carefully in how you do a demolition when there are people occupying the building,” Robert Ader said of the landlord, the Hartford, Conn.-based UBS Realty Investors, listed as the defendant, who did not respond to messages seeking comment.

In addition, the suit alleges the presence of hanging electrical wires and debris. Ader’s son added that there was also a ladder left standing in the hallway, which she could have tripped on. “What’s happening is it’s a major construction zone where they have no regard for the comfort or safety of tenants,” he said.

As of September, Quin Hotel was planning on a 2013 debut.