There seems to be a trend developing. Just the other day, Miss Heather reported on a potentially illegal hostel operating (or about to operate) out of a former glove factory at 300 Graham Avenue. A few minutes ago, I received a press release from Assemblyman Joe Lentol’s office saying that another illegal hostel – this one operating at 112 North 6th Street – had been closed down and vacated by the Department of Buildings. According to Lentol’s office, the six apartments in the building were being used to house up to 16 “guests” each – for a potential capacity of 192 people.
A few things to note here. First, this is not a new trend. There have been reports of condos and apartments operating as hostels, B&Bs, hotels, etc. for a few years now. It is a sign of the times, as owners find themselves unable to sell condos. But given the level of rents in the neighborhood, it is also a sign of greed.
Second, there is a reason why DOB should be cracking down on this. Apartments are not built to the same code as transient hotels. Hotels require more fire protection and, importantly, more and better marked egress. Putting 192 transient residents into a non-fireproof building designed for 20 or 30 residents at the most is a recipe for disaster.
Third, having spent many an afternoon at Sweetwater Tavern watching the “conversion” of this building from a two-story commercial structure to it’s current state, the fact that there something fishy going on here is the least surprising news in the neighborhood. (The most surprising news is that this building is still standing.) A cursory look at the DOB records shows that this building has no CO, and that the conversion (started in 1998) wasn’t even for residential use. In other words, it is not legal for anyone to be living here.
UPDATE: Miss Heather has a lot more details, including screen shots of the advertising for the hostel (note that the picture they use to advertise themselves is not 112 North 6th Street).