City Cracks Down on Illegal Manhattan Hotels

By Tom Liddy | May 15, 2011 5:13pm | Updated on May 15, 2011 5:15pm

By Tom Liddy

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN - City inspectors found a dizzying array of unsafe conditions at a number of illegal Manhattan hotels, resulting in full and partial vacate orders as well as violations.

Two of the four hotels that were shuttered in this month's crackdown were from Manhattan, including one on the Upper West Side and one in East Harlem, the city said Sunday.

The inspections came after a new law took affect May 1 that closed loopholes in the existing code governing short-term rentals.

The measure bans rentals that are less than 30 days and says the use of even one apartment for transients is illegal.  Before, a majority of the building had to be occupied by transients in order for that to be the case.

"In the past, ambiguities in the law hindered our ability to take enforcement actions against illegal hotels," Mayor Bloomberg said.

"Now, with clear definitions and standards, we can more effectively take action against dangerous hotels."

At the New York Hostel 104, at 2027 First Avenue, at East 105th Street, inspectors found the building overcrowded, no fire director and combustible material throughout the buidling, the city said.

That hotel was closed. Also shuttered was the International Student Center at 38 W. 88th St., off Central Park West, which was issued a partial vacate order.

"We had a certificate that shows exactly how many people are allowed to stay in each room," said Amy Oechsle, a front desk staffer at the Student Center, which has been operating for 53 years.

"We thought we were legal.

"I feel like big hotels are trying to make all of the guests get out of the hostels and come to their big, expensive hotels."

Partial vacate orders were also issued to several locations for the McDougal Street Synagogue Hotel, in the East Village and on the Upper East Side.

At the McDougal location at 1370 York Avenue, at E. 73rd Street, a vacate order was issued for 13 illegally occupied and overcrowded rooms, according to the city.

The location was also cited for inadequate egress, inadequate sprinkler and fire systems and obstruction of fire escapes.

At the hotel's St. Mark's Place location, a flyer was posted telling residents how to navigate around the 30-day rule, the city said.

Several Toshi Hotels in the East and West Villages were slapped with violations as were the Boutiques Hostel at 442 W. 54th St. and another hotel at 211 W. 53rd St., according to the city.

An illegal conversion was the site of a recent fatal fire in Brooklyn.

Attempts to reach New York Hostel 104, McDougal Street Synagogue and the Toshi Hotel were unsucessful.

A listing could not be found for the Boutiques Hostel or the hotel on West 53rd Street.