LAST GASP: Live From The Community Board 1 Public Safety Committee; Toshi Presents!

September 28, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11211, Culture War, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

Toshi himself was present.

Floor plans were reviewed and residential apartments were noted.

Curbed was on this first when they wrote (on September 21st):

The Hotel Toshi outpost at 808 Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg has been a source of frustration for longer-term building tenants, some of whom broke their leases early because they were fed up with Toshi’s habits of allegedly leaving the building’s side door open, moving tenants’ mail, and renting out rooms for all-night parties. Some long-term renters remained—in fact, the Toshi outpost is apparently legal because the majority of the units are not Toshi-occupied—but they’re not all on board with Toshi’s latest plan: opening a cafe in the building. A tipster sends along the deets.

You can (and should) read the rest by clicking here. Here’s what I can tell you from last night’s proceedings:

1. Cafe Toshi will be offering “heat and eat” meals and touted support from residential tenants of said building.
2. Concerns about egress and overall compliance with Department of Buildings regulations were raised by the Committee.
3. Thus, the application was turned down until documentation about the legality of the “kitchen plus office” is confirmed by the Department of Buildings.
4. Inasmuch as I can recall, Mr. Toshi is the first and only attendee to bring his dog to a Community Board 1 meeting. He (she?) was in a rather nice carrier and kept quiet throughout the proceedings.

For more reading about the Toshi Empire (and its rather rapacious appetite for commandeering residential apartments for “hotel” use, among other things) click here, here, here, here, here and ESPECIALLY HERE.

New York Shitty Day Starter: An Open Letter To Governor Paterson

When I finally had the time and wherewithal to contact you were unavailable. So here it is.

Dear Mr. Paterson,

Several months ago I was contacted by a person from Richard Gottfried’s office about illegal hotels. She wanted to know about any and all illegal hotel activity I knew about in Williamsburg. Despite being the proprietress of the Village Voice’s “Best Neighborhood Blog of 2009” I was not as helpful as I would have liked to have been; I live in Greenpoint.

However, Greenpoint has its fair share of this kind of thing and I brought them to her attention. Foremost and above all is 184 Eagle Street (formerly known as the Luxe Guesthouse). How do I know about this, you ask? Very simple: I have had residents of said building email me.  Repeatedly. Follows are a couple of their complaints:

“Greetings… I noticed that you covered the “shadiness” that is the development at 184 Eagle St. I am sad to say, I am a resident at 184 Eagle St, and unbelievably I am under a lease. I can tell you first hand that this place is basically a Hostel, and while most original tenants have found a way out of here, I am still trying (with my security/last month intact). Nevertheless, shady things keep happening at the building (the other day a group of girls at the door asked me if the “club” was open today, whatever that means).” From May 14, 2009.

“I am very sad to say that I also live at the now ramshackle shanty condo located at 184 Eagle Street… Similarly to the last resident who dropped you a note, I’ve come across some unsavory characters wandering around in, and trying to follow me into the building. After I shut the door before the last bunch could get in, the guy started yelling at me through the glass and randomly dialing numbers on the call box. I don’t feel safe here at all anymore. Indeed, it simply isn’t.”

This hails from a building where people who are paying $2,000+ a month in rent. In other words: “people who matter”. Speaking as someone who lives a few blocks away I can assure you the “safety” issue extends much further than 184 Eagle Street proper. If the “transactions” I’ve seen are any indication I’d say the drug business is thriving. I have little doubt this underground tourist trade is in large part responsible for this; backpackers looking for a bunk and a good time— with no regard for their neighbors. They drink, get high, break and leave. My community has to deal with the consequences.

If you want to see more abject examples I’d suggest looking at Hotel Toshi’s web site. I recognized (albeit by not specific addresses) quite a few buildings he is employing as hotel space. The one that really got to me was Mr. Toshi’s “Southside Swiss Chalet”. This is, most assuredly, located in a rent-stabilized building.

I’ve featured all the previous and more on my website, Mr. Paterson.  Please approve this legislation.

As I said before: apartments should be for New Yorkers, not tourists.

Miss Heather

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Now Hiring!

May 11, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11211, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

Lindsy (who brought this item to my attention) writes:

Found this in my daily search looking for local jobs.

I don’t know if my tipster followed up on this opportunity. She should. We’re talking health and dental insurance here kids!

Miss Heather

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: Chez Toshi

May 5, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11211, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

Anonymous writes:

Hi Heather,

I hope it’s okay that I come to you when I have random questions about the neighborhood!  On my way home today I noticed that the building at 808 Driggs Ave., which earlier this year was advertised as a rental (I know, because I looked at the apartments.  Decent, but way overpriced), now seems to house another branch of Hotel Toshi.  It says “hotel toshi” on one of the buzzers, and there was a very makeshift-looking flier taped to the outside of the door with the Toshi “logo” on it.  How exactly does this guy run all of these “hotels” out of rental buildings?  I’m mostly curious because I live near this building, and when I googled Toshi it seems like everyone on the Internet is equally mystified by his real estate dealings.

Just curious if you had any thoughts on the guy 🙂

Well, for starters 808 Driggs Avenue has (ostensibly) been canvassed by the Department of Buildings. At least that is what this post over at Curbed would lead one to believe. Apparently they found nothing amiss.

Despite the fact that the buzzer, as you piquantly noted anonymous, clearly states a hotel is on the premises.

A litany of complaints that this building is being employed as a hotel. Follows is my personal favorite.

I want to personally commend the aforementioned complainant’s civility. Had someone entered my apartment I’d probably take our household Louisville slugger and discharge my own “Special Enforcement”.* The call to 311 (or 911 for that matter) would follow. But I digress.

808 Driggs Avenue’s Certificate of Occupancy makes it pretty clear that while it is technically a “mixed use” building it is, in fact, residential.

This begs many questions. Among them:

  1. How do the folks who are outlaying $2,500+ a month in rent at this “hotal” feel about this?
  2. Who would want to rent a room at a “hotel” whose “Welcome” sign is an inkjet print on a piece of office paper affixed with tape? To stucco?
  3. How can the Department of Buildings overlook his web site— which features one “vacation rental” which seems to be located in a rent-stabilized building?

The “Swiss Chalet on South 4 Street” is (in my humble opinion) a real pisser. As is this** which can be found on Toshi’s Flickr page.

Check it out!

Miss Heather

*Not that I advise this. I am for all intents and purposes a law abiding individual. I abhor violence. I do not, however, take kindly to people trying to gain entrance to my apartment for nefarious reasons. I write this as someone who once had a dude walk into our foyer at midnight – 1:00 in the morning one weekend while the Mister and I were watching movies in our living room. We forgot to lock the front door to our apartment. The chap in question was not a resident of our building. My shouting at the top of my lungs:

HELLO! HOW CAN I HELP YOU?

was a sufficient deterrent. He scrammed and we have been damned vigilant about locking down our apartment ever since. Had this chap persisted, well…

**For some serious Toshi partying down click here. CAVEAT: NSFW.

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