Saturday, February 2, 2013
Hurricane collapse happened at illegal hotel
From the Daily News:
A building that crumbled onto a Manhattan sidewalk as Hurricane Sandy bore down on the city was an illegal hotel full of European tourists, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn charges.
In a letter sent to the Buildings Department this week, Quinn asks for a full inspection of the building and demands that the property return to residential use.
“As someone who was on site during the vacate process I can attest to the fact that the users of the buildings were transient guests and not permanent residents,” the mayoral wannabe wrote.
Quinn and other Council members have railed for years about the proliferation of illegal hotels. Landlords make a fortune renting out rooms on a nightly basis that are supposed to rent by the month.
The city loses hotel tax income and neighbors have to deal with a revolving door of transients. Some landlords also create fire hazards by illegally partitioning rooms to make more money.
The illegal rooms at 92 8th Ave. were even advertised through a website called Vrotels.com, which specializes in renting furnished rooms for short-term stays, Quinn wrote.
Quinn’s letter asks Building Commissioner Robert LiMandri to conduct “an extensive audit” of all construction plans and a review of current conditions. Buildings Department spokesman Tony Sclafani said the city will keep careful watch.
City inspectors hit the building with violations on multiple occasions from 2011 to 2012 for work without a permit and for blocking an exit, records show. The property owner currently owes $30,800 in penalties.