Ridge letdown: Prince Hotel auction cancelled

Potential purchasers of the Prince Hotel, an alleged hotbed of drugs, prostitution and violence in the neighborhood, should put any plans of buying the troubled hostelry on hold.

The June 8 auction sale by the city of the property – planned in order to pay off the hotel’s outstanding debt to the city, a result of a laundry list of violations – has been cancelled until a hearing to determine whether the city has the right to hold the sale is held on June 24.

The hearing – calendared after hotel owner Moses Fried sued the city to stop the sale – was originally scheduled for May 13, but was adjourned to the later date, said Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, who broke the news to this paper that the auction had been cancelled as a result.

“I think it’s disappointing,” said Beckmann. “I think it’s very frustrating that the process continues to take so long. He’s had many days in court, and had many years to make repairs and fix the violations and the truth is, he just has not. At this point, that adds to the frustration because he continues to run an establishment that’s not according to code. There are real quality-of-life and safety issues for patrons and residents who live on the block.”

Back in February, Beckmann told this paper that the hotel’s debt to the city was in excess of $400,000, with 71 active Department of Buildings violations on the building and 60 Environmental Control Board violations. Then, in April, a drug overdose death at the hotel added fuel to the fire, approximately two and a half months after city sheriffs descended on the Prince in the wake of a town hall at which Mayor Bill de Blasio had promised swift action after issues related to the hotel were brought to his attention.

Sheriffs were then stationed at the hotel’s front desk, collecting receipts to pay down the hotel’s debt to the city. Those sheriffs had been removed by court order following the initiation of the lawsuit by Fried, and were gone when the overdose death occurred.

“It’s not just a piece of property, it’s not just a landlord saying he doesn’t want to pay the fines,” noted CB 10 Chairperson Brian Kieran at the board’s May meeting, urging his listeners to stay “vigilant” regarding the property. “This affects the neighborhood. There’s going to be a school on the block. People have moved away. The fight is not over.”

Specific violations written against the hotel, 315 93rd Street, include several missing Certificates of Occupancy; Work without Permits while installing fire alarms, gas lines and plumbing; failure to maintain building codes for electrical lines and sprinklers; and illegal use as a transient hotel in a residential district.

Additional reporting contributed by Meaghan McGoldrick

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