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Residents of 93rd Street are calling on the city to shutter a controversial hotel that they say is a hotbed of crime — but the building’s 83-year-old owner says nothing illegal is going on at his spotless neighborhood inn.
Ted Moustakas, who owns property on the same block as the Prince Hotel between Third and Fourth avenues, says that he’s seen young women going in and out of the building at all times and finds discarded hypodermic needles and crack pipes outside the building every weekend.
“It’s a shame, it really brings down the whole neighborhood,” Moustakas said.
But he’s not alone in his critique of the hotel. Ann Lang, who runs a business nearby, said that cops and ambulances frequently pull up in front of the hotel in response to 911 calls inside.
“It’s the hookers, it’s the drugs, it’s the drug dealing,” Lang said.
Anne Gilhooly, who’s lived on the block for 42 years — long enough to remember the Prince once being a respectable boarding house known as The Spotford — said she’s been trying to get rid of the seedy inn for decades without any success.
“We picketed, we’ve been to God knows how many meetings, we went to see the owner, but it’s still there,” Gilhooly said.
Cops from the 68th Precinct confirmed that the hotel is a neighborhood “hot spot” that officers are dispatched to often. Complaints against the hotel range from narcotics to prostitution to homeless people congregating inside, cops say.
Yet Prince Hotel owner Moses Fried refuted the allegations, claiming that he runs a clean place.
“I’m 83 years old, I want to run a nice building, not one with prostitution,” Fried said, claiming that drugs are found everywhere in the city and his neighbors are trying to hang an area problem on his doorstep.
Fried’s company, The Prince Hotel Group, owns three other buildings: the Princess Hotel on Schermerhorn Street between Hoyt and Bond streets in Downtown, the Prince Lefferts Hotel on the corner of Lefferts Place and Classon Avenue in Clinton Hill, and the Little Princess Hotel on 12th Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope.
The city has shut down both the Princess Hotel and the Prince Lefferts for violating building codes and claims of prostitution. The city has summonsed the 93rd Street hotel for fire safety hazards and for working on the building without a permit, and will hold hearings on the violations next month.
The Prince Hotel’s website advertises “comfort and quality at an inexpensive price,” with lodgings that come with jacuzzis and room service — a stark contrast to city records, which list the Prince Hotel as a single-room occupancy building — meaning it offers four walls and a bathroom in the hall to long-term low-income residents.
Fried said the Prince was a hotel, even though city rules forbid rent-by-the-night facilities from moonlighting as single room occupancy dwellings.
Frank Deluca, who owns a limousine company around the corner on Third Avenue, has another name for the Prince Hotel — but it isn’t as flattering as a single-room occupancy dwelling or flop house.
“That place is a crack house,” said DeLuca, who wants the city to hang a vacancy sign on the Prince Hotel for good. “It should have been closed down years ago.”
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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