Longacre Long on Problems

Longacre Long on Problems
Chelsea Clinton News
September 19-25, 1996
by Al Amateau

More woes are befalling the long-troubled Longacre, a single-room-occupancy hotel on West 45th Street.

Residents in the 10-story building between Eighth and Ninth Avenues have been without house phones for three months, and common bathrooms on the eighth floor have been reconfigured in such a way that when one is occupied, tenants are locked out of an adjoining one.

Bob Kalin of Housing Conservation Coordinators, an advocate for long-term tenants in the building, said last week that of the 163 rooms in the hotel, only 83 have permanent tenants, down from 110 a year ago. Alan Jay Lapes, who took control of the hotel in April, has been buying out long-term tenants and renting rooms to tourists.

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” said Lapes in regard to buying out tenants. “We took a building that was the worst in the neighborhood and improved it. We’re getting nothing but resistance from Kalin.”

Kalin, however, said that reconfiguring bathrooms on the eighth floor was the opposite of improvement. That work, he added, exceeds the alteration permits issued by the city. Moreover, Kalin said, the public lobby of the hotel at 317 West 45th Street has been reduced by nearly half. “It’s part of an effort to make things as uncomfortable as possible for permanent tenants.”

Tenants also report that when they decline buy-out offers, sometimes for as much as $5,000, the hotel management refuses to accept rent and serves them with eviction notices. Nevertheless, tenants acknowledge that prostitution and drug traffic previously associated with the hotel has virtually disappeared.

— Al Amateau