Chelsea Hotel renovation amounted to tenant harassment, city says

Richard Born and Ira Drukier acquired landmark property in 2016

The Chelsea Hotel at 222 West 23rd Street and Ira Drukier (Credit: Google Maps; Drukier by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
The Chelsea Hotel at 222 West 23rd Street and Ira Drukier (Credit: Google Maps; Drukier by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

BD Hotels’ efforts to renovate the landmark Chelsea Hotel faces a potential roadblock, as the Department of Housing Preservation has argued that unsafe conditions caused by the renovations amount to tenant harassment.

The department’s lawyers argued on Friday that the owners’ request for a Certificate of No Harassment should be denied, The City reported. The certificate is necessary for work on the property to continue, and a final determination has yet to be made

“We are working on multiple fronts to protect New York City tenants from harassment, and when we find evidence that tenants are at risk, we will continue to do everything within our power to protect them,” HPD spokesperson Matthew Creegan told the publication.

Work on the property has been stopped several times due to stop work orders from the Department of Buildings. Safety violations identified by the HPD included a leaky ceiling, exposed electrical wires and high lead levels, as well as vermin and gas shut-offs.

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As a single-room-occupancy property, the Chelsea Hotel is subject to the somewhat obscure rules surrounding rent-stabilized hotels. The hotel was reportedly home to 51 long-term tenants when BD Hotels, headed by Richard Born and Ira Drukier, bought a stake in the property in 2016.

Holdout tenants at the hotel sued the developers last year, alleging that their new landlord never got a proper certificate of occupancy.

The owners have denied any intent to harass tenants. “Look, our only objective is to try to finish the building and get the tenants living in a nice environment, safe environment, and this just prevents that,” Drukier told The City. “Do I get angry sometimes? Sure, but I’ve never harassed anybody. I’ve tried every which way to accommodate those tenants.”

Housing activists note that it has been rare historically for Certificate of No Harassment applications to be denied for SRO properties. Three blocks west at the Chelsea Highline hotel, the denial of such a certificate ultimately devolved into a legal deadlock that stalled development for years, as TRD reported in August. [The City] — Kevin Sun