Brigid Bergin, Reporter
Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
The landlord for the historic Chelsea Hotel and 35 of its tenants entered into a court mandated agreement Monday ordering the clean up of hazardous conditions in several apartments and common areas at the site, including removal of mold, lead paint and asbestos.
The agreement outlines a schedule to correct current violations and also stipulates the process for ongoing demolition and construction work in a manner that is safe for all tenants — all measures sought by lawyers for the tenants’ group.
The historic 12-story hotel on W. 23rd St. was purchased by Joseph Chetrit for close to $80 million in 2011. While he was named as a party in this dispute, this agreement removes him and his company, the Chetrit Group LLC, from the proceeding as it moves forward, meaning he is not responsible for the clean-up of the building.
The other owners in the hotel, including Chelsea Dynasty LLC, Chelsea Management LLC, Michael Butler, Lilly Sirkin and Meyer Chetrit, Joseph’s brother, all remain subject to the agreement and will be held to account. The hotel will remain in the jurisdiction of the city’s housing court until the repairs are complete.
“Negotiation is always a give and take,” said Janet Ray Kalson, one of the lawyers for the Chelsea Hotel tenants. While she said she would have preferred to keep Chetrit as a party to the agreement, she stated they achieved what they set out to do when they initiated litigation in December.
Michael Butler, with Chelsea Dynasty, LLC, said many of the requested repairs were inherited from the previous landlord of the building. "The current landlord has already completed many of the requested repairs where access was granted by the tenants. Recent delay in performing any further required resident repairs has been due to the insistence of the attorneys for the tenants' association that all access dates be coordinated through the attorneys only, " Butler said, adding that they look forward to restoring the Chelsea to its "iconic status."
The first deadline for significant clean up is June 30. If they fail to meet this deadline, owners could face fines ranging from $50 - $250 per violation, per day until the repairs are complete.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose district includes the Hotel, issued a statement applauding the agreement but also offered this warning: “We’re going to watch this landlord like hawks to make sure the letter of this agreement is followed.”