Clandestine Chinatown Hotel with Gallery Front Busted on Canal Street

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

This image has been archived or removed.

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.

This image has been archived or removed.

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.

Recent Stories

Demolition Begins at Fire-Stricken Dim Sum Palace Building in Chinatown

Demolition started this week at 6 Chatham Square, which, until this month, housed neighborhood favorite Dim Sum Palace. Early morning May 1, a fire in the kitchen spread throughout the building, triggering a five-alarm response from the fire department. All told, five firefighters were injured battling the inferno over several hours. And according to Red […]

Eldridge Street Development Sells for $19.24M

A major real estate deal to report on Eldridge Street. It took three years, but the eight-story mixed-use building at 165 Eldridge traded last week for $19.25 million. Just under the initial 2019 asking price of $21 million. Buyer of record is Meng Lee and Karim Elsayyad of FREO Management. The transaction is not yet […]

The ‘Barrier Reefs’ Coming to Clinton Street Bike Lane

The Department of Transportation has chosen a winner to decorate the traffic barrier protecting the Clinton Street bike line. The city agency awarded artist Alison Cynamon as part of the ongoing Barrier Beautification mural project. The concrete slab runs from Delancey Street to South Street; an 840-foot stretch with roughly 1,980 square-feet of canvas to […]

Redlining the LES: How Discriminatory Lending Policies Solidified Pre-Existing Inequalities

The following was written by Anna Sargeantson. All photos courtesy of Anna Sargeantson, except where otherwise noted. Home to dimly lit restaurants and bars frequented by NYU students and young professionals, the Lower East Side remains in many ways the epitome of New York City’s youthful heart. Under the surface, though, the neighborhood has historically […]

Ed Higgins Gets ‘Mail Art’ Retrospective at Van Der Plas Gallery on Orchard Street

Fresh off featuring his art in Ludlow Coffee Supply, the Van Der Plas Gallery of Orchard Street is now dedicating a full artist retrospective to the late Ed Higgins. Higgins, known as a pillar of the “Rivington School” movement in the 1980s Lower East Side, and for his unique “Mail Art,” died last December at […]