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Reservations Canceled at Kew Gardens Hotel Housing Homeless Men, Guests Say

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | October 10, 2017 1:56pm
 The city rented 42 room for homeless men at a 20-story complex in Kew Gardens. 
The city rented 42 room for homeless men at a 20-story complex in Kew Gardens. 
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — Several guests who booked rooms at a hotel and luxury apartment tower in Kew Gardens where the city controversially began renting dozens of rooms to homeless people last month had their reservations abruptly cancelled, DNAinfo New York has learned.

A Kew Gardens resident said three of his family members, who are visiting for his daughter’s bat mitzvah this coming weekend, booked rooms at the Kew Gardens Comfort Inn several weeks ago.

But on Sunday, they received an email from the hotel stating that “Due to unfortunate circumstances recently at our hotel, we have had to cancel your reservation.”

"They said it was a flood," said the local resident, who did not want his name to be used but provided the email to DNAinfo. 

The email noted that “There has been extensive water damage to certain floors and rooms in our hotel and there are no longer rooms available for check-ins.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and hope that this does not deter you from future business at our location. We will not be charging you for the reservation cancellation,” the message continued.

When the resident called the hotel Sunday, he was told that all reservations had been cancelled, so his relatives booked rooms at another hotel in Rego Park.

"It all seems suspicious," he added.

An employee who answered the phone at the hotel Monday told a reporter that they “are having water damage on some floors,” but added that the hotel is open and that some rooms were still available. She did not elaborate about what caused the damage.

However, a caller trying to book a room at the hotel for Monday and Tuesday night was told there were no rooms available and was instead offered a room at a Comfort Inn in Jamaica.

A spokesman with the Department of Homeless Services — which alarmed locals by beginning to rent 42 rooms in the hotel on Sept. 29 — said Monday that there was no “water damage” impacting units used by the agency.

The agency was also unaware of any conditions affecting rooms not being used by the agency because the hotel manages them independently, the spokesman added.

The 84-room hotel, which has addresses at 123-28 82nd Ave. and 124-18 Queens Blvd., is located on floors four through nine. The building also incudes a residential portion known as The Kewl, featuring 38 luxury units where tenants pay $2,700 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.

A spokesman for the Department of Buildings said Monday that the agency has no records indicating that there has been a major water issue at the building, such as a burst pipe.

If the issue was minor, the agency would not necessarily be involved, the spokesman added.

The DOB has not received complaints from 311 that would require its inspectors to go to the scene.

The DHS said Monday that while it does not share specific costs of housing New Yorkers at specific hotels, the average per-day price of sheltering homeless people in hotels is $175.

READ MORE: City Spends More than $500K a Night to Rent Hotel Rooms to Homeless: Report

The homeless men were placed in the Kew Gardens complex, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio's pledge to end the use of hotels for that purpose.

Many local residents have for years been concerned about the hotel, located near an elementary school and across the street from Queens Borough Hall, fearing it would bring more traffic and parking problems to the neighborhood.

The building remained vacant for several years after it was completed, but opened in January as Hotel Louie, before Comfort Inn took over in March. 

Choice Hotels International, which owns Comfort Inn, did not immediately return an email seeking comment.