By Joy Bergmann

Just weeks after the Department of Buildings cited the Park 79 Hotel at 117 West 79th Street for operating a hotel without a valid certificate of occupancy, the hotel has stopped taking reservations and an owner says it will be undergoing renovations. Just how long those renovations may last, and whether the hotel will contest the violations is still unclear.

“The hotel is not closing. There’s going to be renovation going on,” one owner, Larry Goldstein, told us on December 24th, noting that no guests would be accommodated during the renovation. He would not say what kind of renovation was being undertaken.

Hotel staff are telling guests they can’t book rooms this month. Managers declined to comment.

The building shouldn’t have been used as a hotel, the Department of Buildings alleged in one of 13 open Environmental Control Board violations issued on November 17th. Its Certificate of Occupancy says it is supposed to be a “single room occupancy” building. SROs were built to provide affordable housing to low-income adults; rooms have tended to rent for $500 to $1,000 per month.

However, hotel sites like TripAdvisor and have had the Park 79 among their listings since at least 2007. Visitors have typically paid $259 for a queen accommodation, a front-desk clerk said. The boutique hotel has 108 rooms.

Goldstein did not answer messages Monday seeking comment on the alleged violations or the existence of a Certificate of Occupancy allowing for hotel use.

Park 79’s owners may choose to fight or to comply with the DOB’s requests at upcoming hearings this month in the Office of Administrative Trials & Hearings [OATH]. The potential penalties are high, especially for a Class 1 violation of the City’s rule against illegal hotels. According to OATH spokesperson Marisa Senigo, the owners could face a $3,200 fine plus daily penalty of up to $45,000 for just one of the 13 alleged violations.

Dan Evans, tenant organizer at Goddard Riverside Law Project, said he isn’t surprised that Park 79 could operate openly as a hotel in possible violation of the Multiple Dwellings Law. “It’s much more lucrative for landlords to rent to tourists than tenants. And unless a tenant calls 311 and files a 4A complaint, they get around the law.”

What happens next with Park 79 remains a mystery.

Photo by Joy Bergmann.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 19 comments | permalink
    1. Bob says:

      we’ll i’ll be

    2. Michael says:

      Beautiful building, on a great street, in a superb location. I see no reason why these owners shouldn’t be able to operate as they wish. I adore boutique hotels in Europe and the UWS establishments could use the additional overnight tourism.

      • PedestrianJustice says:

        OK, but these owners must follow the same laws as every other hotelier if and when they are granted an appropriate C of O. If you look at the open violations there are other issues re: fire doors etc which are esp germane to hotels. Not forgetting hotel tax collection and payment…

        • Michael says:

          100% agree – the owners need to comply witht he appropriate regulations. All I wanted to say was that it is a BEAUTIFUL building in a prime location that as a boutique hotel offers more to the the area than it “takes.” To suggest that this should be an SRO and that as a hotel it’s facilitating homelessness is somewhat absurd. I’d say the BIGGER problem is the 100,000 illegal and unsafe SROs across the city.

          • Michael G says:

            Isn’t this building being cited as an “illegal and unsafe SRO” because it is illegally operating as a hotel and violating safety regulations?

    3. Frank says:

      It’s not zoned for commercial use. Can’t operate a hotel.

    4. dannyboy says:

      More Trickle Down:

      3,000 Homeless people are being kicked out of SROs to make room for tenants.

      SRO rooms are taken away for tourists.

      Guess this shifts the homeless to the streets.

      • 21D says:

        dannyboy, every homeless person in NYC has the legal right to shelter. We may be the only major city that can say that. There is always the bottom rung of housing: homeless shelters.

        • dannyboy says:

          Exactly because these rooms are no longer available that the homeless’ only options are the shelters, which, in many cases are so filthy or dangerous as to be uninhabitable.

          Must be nice to think that there is a warmroom for everyone.

          • 21D says:

            Well, at least, the option, though I know from those who have experienced shelters, that some are unimaginably awful. And you probably can trace the rise of shelters to the demise of SROs.

      • RK says:

        An SRO on 79th and Bway would get a lot more than $500-$1000/month rent. I don’t think too many homeless would be able to afford it as an SRO. Nice try, though

      • Scott says:

        It’s a big country Dannyboy. There are wide open spaces in upstate NY, in Pennsylvania and further west. Cheap land as far as the eye can see.

        Only an eejit thinks the only option for the homeless is a Manhattan studio apartment.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          apparently you’re not aware of the # of homeless who are families and people with jobs. Shipping them out to areas remote from their work and/or schools only makes the problem worse.

          of course the central issue is affordable housing. i hope we can maintain some level of affordable housing in Manhattan, even in areas like the UWS.

          • Scott says:

            Really Bruce? Tell us more. How about some hard stats. Vetted by the city, not from the Coalition for the Homeless, who are about as believable as Obama’s maudlin tears.

            Your talking points have been used now for over 30 years. They’ve been utterly discredited as complete horseshit. But you keep going back to the well. You people never will quit, will you?

            • lisa says:

              Scott – A certain portion of homeless individuals and homeless families are working people, albeit low or moderate wage earners. You’d be surprised.
              One such example – at my son’s graduation from one of NYC’s top high schools, a student brought down the house disclosing that the student and student’s family had lived in a homeless shelter…

    5. Chuck D says:

      Now how about Hotel 99 on 99th Street? Same problem, slightly seedier (anyone else notice the young women taking smoking outside while rough dudes stand close by before escorting them back inside?) What exactly is going on in that “hotel?”

      • Maria says:

        I live on 99th and have wondered that many times myself! It is an extended stay hotel – but I seem to remember that it had been a nightly hotel and it turned out they did not have a c/o for that? I have to wonder if they are also an SRO cashing in. It is pretty quiet though.

    6. msz says:

      It took the Building Department at least eight years to realize the building was violating it’s certificate of occupancy? And it is such a visible building that advertised itself as a hotel online. Imagine what else is going on behind their backs.

    7. Arvin says:

      So sad to hear specially the peolple working there for long like me…i was working as a doorman for more than 5 years and they just give us a layoff for no reason its really hard for me to accept because i have a family and kid to fed…this hotel is crazy the owner wanted to get money all the time and we never get increase