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New Owner of Hotel Chelsea Townhouse Continues Tenant Evictions

By Mathew Katz | September 17, 2013 9:33am
  The new owner, King & Grove, continued with at least two evictions despite pledging to be a better landlord, residents say.
Hotel Chelsea Owner Presses Forward With Evictions
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CHELSEA — After months of "horrors" in her rent-controlled apartment, including three ceiling collapses, Tina Rossner's troubles got even worse when she learned last month that her landlord was trying to evict her.

Rossner, who has lived for decades in a crumbling 500-square-foot space in the "Townhouse" behind the Hotel Chelsea, was stunned when she got an eviction notice in mid-August from former landlord Joseph Chetrit, who has also tried to evict a dozen residents of the neighboring Hotel Chelsea over the past two years, court records show.

Rossner, 68, hoped the dispute would be resolved when Ed Scheetz of King & Grove Hotels bought the Hotel Chelsea and the Townhouse at the end of August, but Scheetz is moving forward with the case, court records show.

King & Grove, whose representative did not respond to requests for comment, is also continuing to press an eviction case against another tenant of the eight-apartment brownstone Townhouse, Steve Kenton. Like Rossner, he is accused of not paying rent. He could not be reached for comment.

When Scheetz bought the hotel at the end of August, he pledged to end an era of invasive renovations that had antagonized residents and bring "significant enhancements to the way the property is managed."

Sources said the cleanliness of the hotel has improved in the weeks since Scheetz took over, but Rossner said the conditions of the Townhouse haven't improved.

"Nothing has changed with the removal of Chetrit and the addition of Scheetz," she said. "The walls in my apartment are still crumbling, there's more mold, that's it — and no one's come to fix anything."

Chetrit and then King & Grove claimed Rossner has not paid her $331.81 monthly rent for nine months.

But bank records viewed by DNAinfo New York show that the rent has been deducted from Rossner's account since December — except from April to July, when she withheld rent in an attempt to force her landlord to repair the extensive damage to her apartment. She paid her August rent and sent a check for September that has yet to be cashed, records show.

"I've gone months without a closet — doesn't that sound like something that should be fixed?" said Rossner, who since the late '60s has lived in her apartment in the Townhouse, which is connected to the iconic inn via a tunnel that was created to supply food to the hotel.

The Aug. 27 notice that Scheetz was taking over the properties had no contact information on it, and Rossner said she has been unable to speak to anyone from King & Grove since the sale.

For the two years that Chetrit owned the hotel, he racked up 22 violations with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in the Townhouse, including for mold, broken heating, leaking water, vermin and numerous ceiling collapses, mostly in Rossner's apartment, records show.

Samuel Himmelstein, an attorney representing several other Hotel Chelsea tenants subject to eviction hearings, declined to comment, citing ongoing negotiations about those cases.

Himmelstein is also representing many tenants in a contempt of court motion, claiming that the building's landlord did not clean up an ongoing renovation there despite a court order to do so. The tenants are still negotiating with King & Grove over that case.