Hotel Chelsea Trying to Evict Residents

By Mathew Katz on December 12, 2011 6:45am 

CHELSEA — Despite promises that no tenants would be evicted after the Hotel Chelsea was sold in the summer, its new owners have filed motions to kick ten tenants out of their  apartments.

The residents, many of whom have lived in the West 23rd Street hotel for decades, will have their first hearings in housing court the week before Christmas.

According to court records, the eviction motions were filed by Chelsea Dynasty LLC, which is owned by Joseph Chetrit, the real estate investor that purchased the hotel over the summer.

Shortly afer the purchase, Chetrit closed the hotel to guests, but representatives for him told the hotel's roughly 100 permanent tenants that they would be allowed to stay.

"In my mind, this PR stance that they're not going to evict anyone is nonsense," said Samuel Himmelstein, a lawyer representing several of the tenants.

Himmelstein said that the landlord is accusing the tenants he represents of not living in rent-stabilized apartments, which would make them eligible for eviction.

Himmelstein said that in one case, he has reason to believe the landlord wants to empty an apartment in order to put in a new elevator shaft.

Michael Brown, the lawyer representing the hotel, did not respond to phone calls for this story.

"These people have been living in these apartments since the '70s," Himmelstein said.

Himmelstein said he has a treasure trove of evidence one of his clients, Daniel Shomron, has been living in the same apartment since the 1970s, including a birth certificate for one of Shomron's children, listing Room 810 in the hotel as his home address.

This is not the only legal battle between Chetrit and the Chelsea's tenants. On Dec. 1, Himmelstein filed a lawsuit on behalf of 34 tenants against the hotel's landlord, asking the court to order the hotel's landlord to repair dangerous conditions in both apartments and the hotel's common area that tenants said were created by months of renovations.

According to records from the New York Unified Court System, the landlord has taken legal action against several other tenants who have been behind on their rent.

Several tenants have said they were withholding rent because they claim the renovation has made their apartments uninhabitable.

Housing court hearings will begin for the tenants' lawsuit against the hotel's landlords on Dec. 16.

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