Looking for a cheap bed in downtown Manhattan? Not if the Department of Buildings has anything to say about it.
This morning, we observed a sign outside the Bowery House – 1920s flophouse turned chic, hostel-like hotel – indicating that the Department of Buildings had determined that “conditions in these premises are imminently perilous to life.”
Yikes! According to a DOB spokesperson, the partial vacate order was issued because four rooms within the hotel had been “illegally converted” into hostel rooms. So the scary sign might be overkill — though we know all too well the imminent perils of a snoring bunk-mate with body odor.
According to owner Alessandro Zampedri (a retired race-car driver who knows a whole lot about imminent peril), it’s much ado about nothing. He says the hotel received a permit for the modifications from the Department of Buildings but has yet to receive a final construction sign-off from the fire department, and the delay on this signature is what prompted the partial vacate order.
“It’s a very bureaucratic problem unfortunately, but the DOB and Fire Department are all very backed up on their processing,” he explained, adding that the condition was “not anything that is threatening people’s safety” despite what’s written on the boilerplate sign.
The Bowery House, which once offered cramped quarters for the city’s down-and-out, was converted in 2011 into a trendy hostel-cum-boutique hotel, combining a flophouse-chic aesthetic with Ralph Lauren towels. It offers private rooms as well as rooms with bunk beds, the largest of which sleeps 12 people, each at $42 a night.
According to Zampedri, all of the most recent modifications complied with the maximum floor occupancy. He explained that one of the rooms was a former storage room converted into a room with bunk beds, while in three other instances, existing cubicles were modified to be turned into rooms with bunk beds.
But Zampedri was elusive when asked about the number of bunk beds in the contested rooms. “There’s some of the things I can’t explain or go into too much details about,” said the former speed demon.
Frankly, at $42 a night, we don’t care if Mr. Zampedri is trying to return Bowery House to its flophouse days of yore. After all, what greater peril is there than New York hotel prices?