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Hotel Chelsea Loses Heat, Hot Water and Gas

By Mathew Katz | March 21, 2013 5:40pm

CHELSEA — Tenants at the historic Hotel Chelsea lost heat, hot water and cooking gas after a contractor shut off the main gas line to the building on Thursday morning, according to the residents' lawyer.

The lawyer, Samuel Himmelstein, said the entire building — including popular Mexican restaurant El Quijote — were left in the cold at about 11 a.m., unable to cook or take a hot shower.

Tenants in the building said heat turned off at the same time — even though the building is heated by oil. Temperatures in Chelsea on Thursday dipped to 32 degrees, and by Friday morning had fallen to 29 degrees.

"All hell's breaking lose," Himmelstein said. "When gas is shut off, ConEd won't turn it back on until they inspect every pipe in the building, which could take days, even months in an old building like the Chelsea."

For more than a year, the hotel has been the scene of an often-chaotic renovation as new owner Joseph Chetrit aims to transform it into a luxury property, often clashing with the roughly 100 existing residents. The tenants sued Chetrit last year, winning a court order to clean up damage and mold caused by the renovation.

According to Himmelstein, Chetrit's construction workers had gradually gone back to dirty construction conditions, with huge amounts of dust floating throughout the building. 

"The dust level's just off the charts," he said. "We've already decided to go back to court in a contempt motion,"

An attorney for Chetrit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"We are not going anywhere — this is our home, everything has to be restored," said Zoe Pappas, who heads up a tenants' association at the hotel.

"If they think they're going to make us run away, they are wrong."