Hotel Use Ruled Unlawful

258 West 97th Street, Manhattan. Image credit: CityLand

Hotel continued to operate transient use despite amendments to the Multiple Dwelling Law. The Royal Park Hotel, located at 258 West 97th St., Manhattan, operates as a transient use hotel. On July 5, 2012, Buildings issued a notice of violation to the Royal Park Hotel charging that it was operating as a transient hotel in violation of its 1964 certificate of occupancy. The 1964 certificate of occupancy classified the building as class A, a multiple dwelling.  Class A requires that the majority of rooms be used for “permanent resident purposes.”

The Royal Park Hotel defended by asserting that its transient use had been grandfather in an earlier litigation involving a notice of violation issued in 2009. In that earlier 2009 case, the Appellate Division, First Department, had relied on a 1947 I-card allowing for use of the rooms in the Royal Park Hotel as class-B “sleeping rooms.” Based on the earlier I-card, the Appellate Division ruled that transient hotel use “had been grandfathered.” Terrilee 97th St., LLC v. NYC Envtl. Control Bd., 102 A.D.3d (1st Dep’t 2013).

The Environmental Control Board rejected the grandfather defense and imposed a fine of $5,200. The Royal Park Hotel filed an article 78 appealing the fine.

The Appellate Division, First Department, upheld the fine. It relied on new legislation passed subsequent to the 2009 notices of violation that had been the subject of the earlier Appellate Division decision. The State legislature in May 2011 had amended the Multiple Dwelling Law to prohibit units in a class A multiple dwelling from being used for a period less than thirty days. These 2011 amendments, the Appellate Division ruled, had superseded the Royal Park Hotel’s grandfathering previously approved under the City’s zoning resolution. As a result the 1964 certificate of occupancy controlled, and the court upheld the violation.

Terrilee 97th St. LLC v. NYC Envtl. Control Bd., 146 A.D.3d 716 (1st Dep’t. 2017).

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