Clandestine Chinatown Hotel with Gallery Front Busted on Canal Street

Posted on: January 13th, 2014 at 5:18 am by

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The top floor of 171 Canal was alleged to have been illegally converted to SRO

Stroll by 171-173 Canal Street on any given day, and you wouldn’t think twice about the activity up above. Until now, the top floor of this five-story walkup hosted the so-called Collective Gallery, touted as a “very unconventional intimate space” utilized by a “collective of thirteen artists.” This is an unconventional space, alright, but only because the seven-year-old gallery was purportedly a cover operation for a clandestine hotel. Indeed, their last actual show was December 2012, at least according to the website.

The DOB caught wind of the allegedly illegal four-room SRO (and roof deck), and dropped the hammer early last week. An eagle-eyed tipster spotted the “partial vacate” order sticker pasted to the door, and noted that the city agency chose the coldest day of the week (nay, decade) to evacuate the building. Dozens of dwellers were forced to find a place to stay in sub-zero temperatures.

Apparently the hidden hotel boasted four cramped quarters, some of which you couldn’t stand up in at all. Each went for an astronomical price ranging from $1,100 and $1,700, plus expenses for cleaning lady. Rentals were openly listed on French website LesFrenchy, thereby catering mostly to European and other internationals.

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The alleged backroom hotel in use, 2006; Photo: Art.Amsterdam

The fun times went on for over a decade undisturbed, but have seemingly come to an end.

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