Earlier today, city officials came to the Tempo building at 240 West 73rd Street to give tourists the boot. A reported 89 rooms in the building have been operated as a hotel for years, alongside permanent residents, but a state law passed last year made them illegal.
Mary DeGendre, a former New Yorker who now lives in Paris and was visiting with her husband and three teenaged daughters, had booked a suite at the Tempo for the week for $2,000. When they arrived today after a 16-hour flight, they were told they could not check in and scrambled to find another place to stay at the last minute.
“This was my Valentine’s Day present from my husband,” DeGendre said. “I’m a former New Yorker, I came here to visit, and I’m furious.” The family trudged off to the Beacon, at a rate of $360 a night.
While visitors became the unwitting victims of a sudden eviction, permanent tenants of the building say they’ve been suffering for much longer and are the real victims of the situation that they hope will now improve.
“There’s people coming and going at all times, an unbelievable volume,” said Stefan Capan, a real estate broker who has lived in the building, surrounded for the past six years by a revolving door of tourists, for 30 years. “The elevators are constantly breaking down. I have a different neighbor every day.”
Capan and his neighbors are hoping that this eviction will bring them some peace. Owners of the building, who are reportedly engaged in a legal battle with the company that has been operating the illegal hotel, were not immediately available for comment.
City Council Member Gale Brewer and State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal were both on the scene this afternoon, helping stranded tourists and talking to residents.
“We hope this means that the rooms and apartments that are here become permanent housing for West Siders,” Brewer said. She described many ongoing problems that residents have had living with transient guests, like all night partying and loud noises.
“[They] should not have rented out rooms to unsuspecting
tourists,” said Rosenthal, who worked on the state law to make these hotels illegal. She said that she sympathizes with the stranded visitors but is happy that resident are finally getting some relief.
“He’s allowed the quiet enjoyment of his apartment,” she said of Capan. “It’s a threat to his safety, because they don’t screen [guests] for criminal records. It’s just untenable.”
Look for the full story in the April 19 edition of the West Side Spirit.
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