The Branson at Fifth Avenue, a 65-unit apartment complex, has earned the unsavory distinction of garnering more illegal-hotel complaints than any other in the five boroughs.
The Branson is actually two buildings, located at 15 and 19 West 55th Street, that are joined by a common basement. Both properties are owned by real estate developer Salim Assa, who bought them for $60 million in 2013, according to Crain’s.
Long-term renters occupy only about 10 of the units. The rest of the 55 units are used as illegal hotels, resulting in nearly $100,000 in unpaid violations at the building.
Two weeks ago, the de Blasio administration sued Assa for his activities at the Branson, along with two other residential buildings he owns on West 46th Street, according to Crain’s.
And illegal doesn’t necessarily mean cheap: an 11-night stay in one of its three-bedroom apartments in May 2014 cost $9,121, or $276 per bedroom per night. Another tourist paid $1,407 for a two-bedroom unit for three nights, or $234 per bedroom per night, according to Crain’s. [Crian’s] – Christopher Cameron