Chelsea, NY- Speaker Christine C. Quinn, State Senator Tom Duane, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, the Chelsea Hotel Tenants Association and local groups today called on the landlord of the Chelsea Hotel to reach an immediate agreement with tenants to repair hazardous conditions in the building.
“Making sure residents have a safe place to call home is the fundamental responsibility of any decent landlord,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “It’s unconscionable that the tenants of the Chelsea Hotel have been exposed to mold and other hazardous conditions as a result of negligence from the building’s new owner. Joseph Chetrit must immediately address these conditions and work with the Tenants’ Association to safely remove asbestos and mold from the Chelsea Hotel.”
Speaker Quinn, elected officials and local groups criticized the Chelsea Hotel’s landlord for his failure to reach an agreement with the Chelsea Hotel Tenants Association to implement asbestos and mold abatement plans after evidence of both were found in the building.
In December 2011, tenants filed suit against Joseph Chetrit to demand he rectify unsafe conditions in the building and follow the recommendations of an environmental inspection and testing report outlining how to safely remove mold and other hazardous materials from the building.
“I am extremely disturbed by Chetrit’s unwillingness to negotiate in good faith regarding much-needed repairs and hazardous construction conditions at the Hotel Chelsea,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler. “The Hotel Chelsea is a significant landmarked building with a proud tradition in New York City popular culture and a long history as an affordable residence for artists, and the new owner must honor this history and respect the rights of existing tenants. I expect Chetrit to take every possible step to ensure that current residents are able to live in a safe and healthy environment as construction continues.”
“When the Chetrits assumed ownership of the iconic Hotel Chelsea, they also assumed responsibility for ensuring the homes of the hotel’s longtime tenants are safe and habitable,” said New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane. “While negotiations between the Chetrits and the tenants have broken down, it is imperative for the residents’ health and safety that mold and asbestos abatement occur immediately, and that all necessary repairs to the building are done in a timely manner. My patience has worn thin. I call on the Chetrits to commence negotiating in good faith to resolve issues regarding repairs, mold, and immediate hiring of qualified union workers for asbestos abatement.”
“Tenants have got to be protected from asbestos exposure while the construction work is going on,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, who chairs the NYS Assembly Health Committee. “State and City law mandate proper asbestos removal and remediation because of the health hazards it poses to people. The landlord must not be allowed to cut corners or disregard the law, which happens too often in New York. Considering the amount of money the Chetrit Group is spending on this renovation, it is appalling that they have not come to an agreement with the tenants of the building on how best to proceed with mold remediation and asbestos abatement.”
“I am greatly concerned that the hazardous living conditions reported at the Chelsea Hotel continue unabated,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “Mold and asbestos have serious impacts on the health of residents, and there is simply no excuse for failing to eradicate these problems as quickly as possible. The building’s new owner must work with the tenants to correct these deplorable conditions without further delay. This is not optional. It’s the law.”
“Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) is deeply concerned about the reported mold and asbestos issues at the Chelsea Hotel. In fact, there are a number of outstanding community issues that need to be resolved with the hotel owners from proposed building renovations to a nightclub on the roof,” said Corey Johnson, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 4. “MCB4 believes these issues have a serious negative quality of life impact and threaten the future habitability of existing apartments. We thank Speaker Quinn and all our elected representatives and join them today in demanding a complete and thorough resolution to this very troubling situation.”
“After four months of good faith negotiations by the tenants, and assurances given to elected officials and Community Board representatives that a consent order would be signed, the landlords have delayed, obfuscated and stonewalled by refusing to enter into an agreement that would protect tenants’ rights at the Chelsea,” said Zoe Pappas, President of the Hotel Chelsea Tenant Association. “By their acts, the landlords are defiling the long and glorious history of the Chelsea Hotel as a home to renowned writers, artists and musicians.”
“After the Chetrit Group purchased the Chelsea Hotel in August 2011, they began a massive demolition project spewing forth mold and dust contaminated with silica, lead and asbestos, endangering the health and safety of the tenants,” said Tenant Attorney Janet Ray Kalson. “As the landlords refused to sit down and negotiate, the Chelsea Tenants’ Association commenced litigation against the owners in December 2011. For the past 4 months, the tenants have engaged in extensive good faith negotiations with the landlords, agreeing to multiple extensions of time and umpteen changes to the parties’ agreement. Finally, on April 27, 2012, the parties’ attorneys negotiated a ‘final agreement.’ Immediately thereafter, the landlords reneged on the deal and insisted on yet another set of changes. Enough is enough. The tenants’ association refuses to play a game with ever changing goal posts, and will continue their battle to protect their health and safety at a trial in Housing Court.”
The Chelsea Hotel is known for its high-profile residents including Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Sid Vicious and others. In 1966 it was designated a New York City landmark.
After the press conference members of the media will have an opportunity to interview tenants of the iconic Chelsea Hotel and tour apartments with mold covered walls and ceilings, deteriorating and rusted cabinets and sinks.