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Neighbors say Hotel Toshi is a horrorshow hostel

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A hipster hotel that occupies part of a converted loft building in Williamsburg has become such a crash pad that some renters are moving out.

Tenants of a six-story building on Driggs Avenue and S. Fifth Street are accusing the operators of Hotel Toshi of creating a nuisance by allowing their transient guests to throw rowdy late-night parties.

One tenant said she often feared for her safety when coming home late at night and is now negotiating with her landlord to break her one-year lease after two months.

“When I come home at 1 am by myself, I am thinking what if I get mugged in my own elevator?” said the tenant, who declined to give her name. “I shouldn’t be thinking these things.”

Others lambasted Hotel Toshi and the building’s owner, Shlomo Karpen, for keeping the building’s side door open, displacing tenant mail, renting rooms for private parties that have spilled into the hallway and lasted until 5 am.

Hotel Toshi President Robert Chan says that he has been responsive to the concerns of his guests and lease-holding tenants in the building. And he said that his staff has put a stop to parties that have gotten too loud or gone on too late.

“We have a 24-hour superintendent,” he said. “We serve the whole building. We clean the whole building. When I run a building, I think I do an OK job.”

Chan believes that his hotel is operating within the letter of the law, despite persistent charges to the contrary by his foes.

“We provide furnished rental apartments,” he said. “We’re not stuffing a bunch of people into one room, with barracks-style bunk beds [like other hostels in the neighborhood]. What we’re doing is completely legal and I believe we are in the right here.”

It is a question that the city has had difficulty answering.

Over the past few months, city officials have investigated dozens of illegal hostels and hotels, but confusion remains over what constitutes a legal business.

Last month, the city raided a commercial building on N. Sixth Street that contained two hostels. One was shuttered, but the other was allowed to remain open because it had the proper fire exits and sprinkler systems.

One city source told us that more raids are imminent, but another source, said that the Department of Housing and Preservation Development is “overwhelmed” by the proliferation of hostels and hotels throughout the city.

Some of those hotels are operating in commercial buildings, which is illegal. But it’s difficult for the city to crack down on hotels in residentially zoned buildings, thanks to a 2009 Appellate Court decision that ruled that a hotel is legal if a majority of single-room units in a building are leased to tenants for a period over 30 days a month.

That appears to be the case at 808 Driggs Ave., where fewer than 50 percent of the units are rented to visitors, while the majority is occupied by permanent residents. Still, the building’s lease-holding tenants are furious.

Two weeks ago about 20 of the building’s long-term renters met with Karpen to air their grievances.

According to one tenant, Karpen told them the hotel is making him more money than the leases, that it is here to stay, and if this was unacceptable, they could move out. Calls made to the landlord were unreturned.

One couple is taking the offer and is moving out after two months.

“We really loved this apartment. We thought we’d be here for five years. We definitely wanted to stay here,” said one tenant.

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Reader Feedback

Moshe Aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg ODA says:
TOSHI, TUCHES: The name Toshi in yiddish means ass kisser, one who shamelessly kisses some backside, ass, "tuches lecker" . Mr Karpen CHANGE the name and everything will be fine
May 5, 2010, 8:28 am
Pooter from Brooklyn Heights says:
You're all a bunch of wet blankets/soggy biscuits. Get over it. Stop trying to ruin other people's fun. If they want to have a party, let them. Stop trying to control other people's lives.

There are quiet places all over, in fact the whole city is quiet and boring because of aggresive party poopers like yourselves.
May 5, 2010, 9:56 am
illegal from Williamsburg says:
Cleans everything my ass! This whole thing is a frustrating disaster. GOOD JOB ROBERT AND SHLOMO, you have proven yet again that heartless, cruel, dirty, money hungry people are rampant wherever one goes!
There is no mail being delivered, shoved on a stupid table for everyone to see. The elevator and hallways smell of beer. Loud annoying frat heads party there all night long! All Shlomo wants is money, typical!!! 24-hour superintendent??? "We serve the whole building" is a JOKE! This is completely illegal! Not to mention Toshi's "people" tried to buy me out when I signed my lease! Isn't that "generous"!? The leasing offices never give any of the tenants straights answers either. What a shame and a waste!
May 5, 2010, 2:21 pm
Carmen Perez from Williamsburg says:
I work at a small restaurant in the area and I can tell you that, if not for these tourist and vacationers or business guests the restaurant where I work would have long been out of business! these tourist are keeping our restaurant afloat and I spoke to several other neighborhood business who told me the same, this tourist are pouring into our local NYC economy millions in which a lot of these tourist told me that if not for these hotel apartments they would have not come to NYC for vacation, an average regular hotel in NYC if $300 - $400 a night for one small room!.
Furthermore, all these complaints by these “anonymous tenants” running to the press every second day is nonsense! a person who is coming to NYC for vacation or business for a short time is not looking to do any muggings or harm anyone, these people are in most part professionals who came here for vacation or business, the statistics are that 99.99% of all assaults or muggings are done by local tenants, vacationers are not looking to harm anyone, they came here for vacation, all these complaints are nonsense! they are obviously being done with someone with a hidden agenda or to extort money from their landlord!
May 5, 2010, 3:22 pm
anonymous from williamsburg says:
http://www.vosizneias.com/54795/2010/05/05/williamsburg-ny-neighbors-say-hotel-toshi-for-hipsters-is-a-horrorshow-hostel

PLEASE READ THEIR COMMENTS!!! This is from a Yiddish website...their comments are priceless!!!!
May 5, 2010, 5 pm
anonymous from williamsburg says:
I am fine with tourists--- NOT AGAINST THEM! The tenants weren't told of the Hotel establishment when signing their lease. Get with it! Also, you don't live there! I do. We pay so much in rent to avoid any abuse? The reason why I pay SO MUCH in rent is to come to my "home" not a grubby hotel!
May 5, 2010, 5:04 pm
alex from east village says:
My friend lives in that building and was repeatedly harassed by Toshi's team to give up the apartment AND tried to bribe my friend to vacate.
May 5, 2010, 5:41 pm
Cindy from williamsburg says:
POOTER- you're an idiot!
ALEX-- That is awful and not Surprising!
May 5, 2010, 5:51 pm
dale from astoria says:
lamest news story ever. just another nail in the coffin for willy scenesters
May 5, 2010, 9:39 pm
dood from teh burg says:
its the burg... why come to a neighborhood know to house artists and musicians and temp people who party hard and force them to move when you moved into the hood because of them anyway... That's what happen to the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Its moronic. don't move to a cool neighborhood then kick the people who made you love that neighborhood out. makes no SNES.

Squares have kicked all the musicians and artists out of the Lower east side and now they're working on the burg... sucks, go be an office manager in the city...
May 5, 2010, 10:53 pm
Honest Tenant from Williamsburg says:
In response tho these anonymous tenant, I would like to ask this tenant a question, what was the reason when you, “you so-called anonymous law abating tenant who went to the press to slander the landlord”, arranged a meeting between the tenants to instigate and provoke them against the landlord you did not call ALL the tenants?! you selectively called only the tenants from your........!! this is a classic act of racial profiling and discrimination by this tenant, and for the same reason why you selectively didn’t call all the tenants to your meeting you are running to the press to slander your landlord, this tenant seems to have racial motives in her campaign to slander the landlord!
May 6, 2010, 2:11 am
Honest tenant to honest tenant from Williamsburg says:
All tenants were called...the article in not 100% correct (they never are) We were ALL in favor and all reached out to. Nobody is clearly against musicians and artists at all (most of the "tenants" in the building are artists, professionals and families). We are against the dishonesty of it all...we were not told of a hotel in our building! Is anybody not getting the point? Imagine your mail "literally" thrown all over the lobby entrance (photos to prove this by the way). The entire mail system in our building came to a complete halt and there was no answer in regards to it. The post office started holding our mail...we didn't know of this. There is no racial motives...I don't know where you are even getting this from. We just want to come "home"...wouldn't you? I have lived in WILLIAMSBURG "honestly" for 8 years and had always come home...this is a HOTEL, not a home. Would you also like to come home to "tourists" throwing beer bottles off the roof? These weren't things that made me love the neighborhood. Come on!
May 6, 2010, 1:01 pm
read from burg says:
http://www.vosizneias.com/54795/2010/05/05/williamsburg-ny-neighbors-say-hotel-toshi-for-hipsters-is-a-horrorshow-hostel
May 6, 2010, 1:04 pm
beatriz from ave H says:
i was almost raped in a building on 6th street which was turned into a hostel, they put all tenants in a state of jeopardy.
May 6, 2010, 11:05 pm
Jocelyn from Williamsburg says:
Wah Wah, New York City is loud, wah wah.

Perhaps you'd be more comfortable in the suburbs.
May 7, 2010, 4:21 pm
Cindy from Williamsburg says:
I don't like this, I moved to williamsburg for peace and quiet and I don't care who's toes I have to step on to get it. Back in Iowa we didn't have to deal with this kind of tiddley winks. I just want to say darn you people - I need to sleep, I have my alterna- feminist knitting group meeting s at 7:30 am weekdays and without them I am totally bummed out at my job at barnes and nobles. So there you go, I am so right. Get it together my littles. And pooter and alex, so wrong, your wrongness is self obvious without any kind of explanation whatsoever
May 8, 2010, 8:30 am
Marcus from Williamsburg says:
I have heard from multiple sources that Hotel Toshi has bedbugs. Probably from all the foreign visitors...
Aug. 23, 2010, 12:31 am

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