MacDougal Street Synagogue Closes its 97 Allen Hostel

Posted on: May 12th, 2011 at 6:18 am by

The rather shady hostel that’s been operating at 97 Allen Street, misleadingly named MacDougal Street Synagogue, is now kaput.  A pair of notices in the doorway inform prospective travelers that the jig is up, due to a “new law that went into effect May 1.”  That legislation, of course, is the “illegal hotels” bill approved by Governor Patterson last summer which requires an occupancy period of more than thirty days for “class A multiple dwellings.”

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As previously reported, this particular location is actually an outpost of the organization rooted on the Upper East Side at 1370 York Avenue.  A similar clampdown occurred there as well, with the DOB issuing partial vacate orders last Thursday, claiming an “illegal transient hotel.”

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But the game is not over for MacDougal.  The so-called synagogue, which describes itself as “a not-for-profit religious organization…that promotes a modern take on tolerance to New York City visitors from throughout the world,” is currently evoking First Amendment protections under the Constitution.  Huffington Post has more on their case:

Last year MacDougal, along with the owner of 1370 York Avenue, fired back at the city with a motion claiming that because of the First Amendment and a quirk in city rules, it should be able to expose tourists to “the teachings of tolerance without being subject to the restrictive apartment conversion requirements set forth in the New York City Administrative Code.”

However, the New York County Supreme Court denied the motion for an injunction against the city.

[Justice Barbara] Jaffe mostly ignored the synagogue’s First Amendment claims, which hinge on the tolerance programs the organization touts. Some former visitors say those programs consisted of nothing more than posters.

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