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Hotel Chelsea Ordered to Clean Up Amid Renovation

By Mathew Katz | December 17, 2011 2:00pm

MANHATTAN — Hotel Chelsea residents scored a major victory Friday when a judge ordered the famed hotel's owner to address conditions brought on by extensive renovations that tenants have complained are dangerous and unhealthy.

The ongoing demolition and renovations inside the landmark building at 222 W. 23rd St. must obey all federal, state, and city regulations, housing court judge Peter Wendt ruled. That includes transporting debris in sealed bags, setting up vacuums to scrub the air of dust and ensuring that all tenants have regular heat and hot water.

The order comes as a result of a lawsuit brought by 34 tenants against developer Joseph Chetrit, who bought the hotel in the summer.

In November, the tenants and their lawyer commissioned a health report by Olmsted Environmental Services, first reported by DNAinfo, which said the renovation has kicked hazardous levels of dust, mold, and lead into the air.

Tenants said upon returning to the hotel on Friday, they could hear the sound of the new vacuums that would clear the air of dust.

"It was a very good day for us," said Zoe Pappas, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. "It's not about victory here. It's about a lawful way of being treated. It's about how people should treat people, because we are people."