Limit in 66-year-old C of O compels office closing

Office space on E. 63rd Street once used by adjacent Barbizon Hotel. Responding to neighbors’ complaints, the Department of Buildings sent an inspector to 148 East 63rd Street, who found that the offices of Relais & Chateaux, hotel and restaurant owners, occupied four floors in the residentially-zoned building. Buildings issued an order to close the offices under the Padlock Law, which OATH ALJ Kara J. Miller upheld after a hearing requested by the owners, Jeanette and Elba Bozzo.

The Bozzos appealed to BSA, arguing that the original 1940 certificate of occupancy authorized office use as of right and that Relais & Chateaux used some of the space residentially when its “out-of-state” employees from New Jersey needed to stay in the city overnight. Buildings countered that the 1940’s zoning prohibited office space, and the C of O indicated that the office space was accessory to the Barbizon Hotel. Buildings added that the accessory use became illegal in 1961 when the City adopted its comprehensive zoning code, but it could remain if the Bozzos could show it operated continually as office space over the years.

The Bozzos, owners since 1996, claimed to have thrown out the original leases and held no proof of the building’s uses.

BSA found it “dubious” that Buildings would issue a C of O in 1940 for a prohibited use and agreed with Buildings that the C of O’s text indicated the space operated as part of the hotel. BSA then denied the Bozzos’ appeal and revoked the C of O since the owners failed to provide proof of uninterrupted office use.

BSA: 148 East 63rd Street (164-06-A), (270-06-A) (Dec. 12, 2006) (Peter Geis, Cozen O’Connor, for Bozzos; Ingrid Addison, Lisa M. Orrantia, for DOB); OATH: DOB v. Owners of 148 E. 63rd Street, Index No. 994/06 (June 29, 2006). CITYADMIN

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