GREENPOINT — A notorious SRO hotel with hundreds of building violations that sits blocks from the waterfront has been sold to a former hostel owner who is considering demolishing the building, DNAinfo New York has learned.
The Greenpoint Hotel — an SRO with more than 200 units of affordable housing for formerly homeless men — has been in a state of severe disrepair for years, said residents and their lawyers, who have sued longtime landlord Jay Deutchman over its condition.
But last month Deutchman sold the Manhattan Avenue building to Gal Sela, whose former Harlem hostel was shuttered by the city for overcrowding and improper zoning in 2010. Sela said he plans to clean up the beleaguered Brooklyn structure to get it up to the city's necessary code before either demolishing it or changing its use next year.
"I may knock it down and build another building," said Sela, who spent $6 million for the deed and $26 million for control over all the tenants' leases, according to property records. "We're keeping the tenants there now...but if they want to be bought out, we want to do that."
Sela said he "obviously" thought the property — which sits across the street from popular cafes Milk and Roses and Champion Coffee — was extremely valuable, but noted he would not decide his ultimate plan for the spot until spring, after he had fixed up and cleaned the building.
"Right now we’re focusing on cleaning the property and the violations and straightening out the issues," Sela said, "because this building was neglected for years."
He would not comment on whether he planned to open a hostel on the property.
If Sela did try to get rid of the current SRO, the tenants would be at a complete loss for housing, their lawyer Brian Sullivan said.
"It would be a tragedy if these units were destroyed," Sullivan said. "The Greenpoint Hotel is home for quite a few tenants and has been home for these tenants for many years."
Sullivan said the city's laws for SROs prohibit tenants from being evicted "without good cause." Sela would have to prove that there has been “[no] harassment of the lawful occupants of the property during [the preceding three years],” according to the city's administrative code, Sullivan noted.
Sela assured that he would work fairly with the current tenants and that he was doing the best he could to improve their living situation.
"I don't want to see people living in these conditions," he said. "We're making sure they're in a safe environment."