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City Halts Work at Chelsea Hotel After Finding Dust Set for Lead Testing

By Maya Rajamani | April 4, 2017 11:30am
 The Chelsea Hotel.
The Chelsea Hotel.
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CHELSEA — The city ordered a halt to renovation work at the Chelsea Hotel after finding construction dust at the site that needs to be tested for lead.

The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene inspected the historic West 23rd Street hotel on Friday after receiving a complaint about “unsafe work creating dust,” a spokeswoman said on Monday.

“We have issued a stop-work order for this site and collected dust wipe samples to test for lead,” the spokeswoman said, noting that testing is a “standard practice” if inspectors find dust at a site. The results of the test weren’t yet available on Monday.

Workers at the hotel must clean up the dust and receive instructions about “safe work practices,” she added. 

The legendary lodge’s new owners are currently in the process of redeveloping the property into condos and hotel space.

Friday’s stop-work order comes several months after the city’s Department of Buildings hit the hotel's owners with its own series of stop-work orders, for filing plans that didn’t accurately reflect the building’s layout and lacking tenant-protection measures.

While there are no current DOB stop-work orders at the hotel, the owners owe the city $10,500 in civil penalties stemming from more than 40 existing violations at the site, a DOB spokesman said on Monday.

The property has 22 open Environmental Control Board violations and 21 other active DOB violations — the most recent of which was issued on March 8 for failing to repair an inoperative elevator, records show.

The department conducted its own inspection of the hotel on Monday after receiving another complaint claiming the owners weren’t complying with their tenant-protection plan, but didn’t find any violating conditions, the spokesman said.

The DOB issued a violation on March 21 after finding “unpermitted installation of temporary lighting and electrical work on several floors of the building,” but that issue has since been resolved, according to its records. It will continue monitoring construction at the site, its spokesman noted.

The Health Department, meanwhile, plans to conduct follow-up inspections at the hotel, its spokeswoman said.

The hotel’s owners, Richard Born and Ira Drukier, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. A third owner, hotelier Sean MacPherson, couldn’t be reached for comment.