Council Member Corey Johnson Statement on Illegal Hotel Fire in Hell’s Kitchen –  02.06.15

NEW YORK – A five-story Manhattan building owned by one of the city’s worst illegal hotel landlords – Highpoint Associates VII LLC – was badly damaged by a major fire earlier this week. The incident occurred on the same day that Public Advocate Letitia James named Highpoint the top illegal hotel landlord in NYC with over $100,000 in outstanding fines. Another building owned by the same company was engulfed in fire in December, and the illegal hotel operator has been cited for repeated fire code violations. Following these tragic incidents, NYC Council Member Corey Johnson, who represents the district in which the buildings are located, called on the city to prioritize fire safety inspections of illegal hotels due to the disproportionate public safety threat they pose.

NYC Council Member Corey Johnson said, “An event took place in my district this week that illustrates why New York City must do more to enforce its illegal hotel laws – before a truly tragic event takes place. Two days ago a fire broke out at 412 West 46th Street, damaging the structure and forcing the relocation of families. This building is owned by Highpoint Associates LLC, one of New York City’s most notorious illegal hotel operators. I am outraged that bad actors like Highpoint Associates continue to flourish across our City in violation of basic fire safety laws, endangering the safety of building residents and visitors alike. Illegal hotel operators continue to make money hand-over-fist while their tenants go to sleep every night in buildings that lack basic fire safety features. The people of my district have been increasingly affected by this problem. Last month at City Hall, hundreds of New Yorkers attended our hearings about this issue – a reflection of the anxiety that people are feeling across the City.  I want to thank the FDNY, NYPD and the American Red Cross for their swift response to Wednesday’s fire.  I call on the City to prioritize fire safety inspections of illegal hotels due to the disproportionate public safety threat they pose. Illegal hotels are much more than just a threat to affordable housing and quality of life. They are a threat to people’s lives.”

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