Aug. 18, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Four Queens lawmakers have launched a petition calling for the city to clamp down on a Kew Gardens flophouse that has become a hotspot for illegal activity and shootings.
Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal, State Sen. Leroy Comrie, Council Member Karen Koslowitz and Rep. Grace Meng are calling for the city to take action against the Umbrella Hotel, located at 124-18 Queens Blvd.
The representatives say the hotel has become “a hotbed of violence and public health hazards.” They want city agencies–such as the FDNY, Health Department and Dept. of Environmental Protection– to inspect the hotel and respond to infractions.
The front door of the hotel was sprayed with bullets Sunday, Aug. 9, as it was the scene of a drive-by shooting. A separate shooting incident took place at the hotel on July 3.
“Thank god no one has been hurt, but how many bullets can we dodge?” Rosenthal said.
There have also been numerous reports of large indoor parties, drug deals, assaults, public indecency and menacing in recent months–despite the pandemic, the lawmakers said.
One Kew Gardens resident who signed the petition said she now worries about her safety.
“My neighbors and I can no longer feel safe in what was once a very beautiful and safe neighborhood,” Michele Roqueta commented. “This hotel has brought nothing but crime and has to go!”
Rosenthal called an emergency meeting to address the problem last week at Queens Borough Hall. He said the hotel management was invited to the meeting, but didn’t show — nor did multiple city agencies.
Now he is asking residents to sign a petition to demand the Mayor’s Office coordinate a multi-agency response to the growing public safety concern the hotel has created.
“Quite frankly, we need City Hall to make sure that their agencies are responsive,” Rosenthal said. “We are confident that if the appropriate agencies are properly monitoring and regulating the laws that are on the books already, this situation would go away quickly.”
The local NYPD 102nd Police Precinct has been proactive and responsive in dealing with the hotel, he added, but a coordinated city effort is needed to protect the community.
Rosenthal said, for example, the Department of Health should be issuing violations for large indoor gatherings during the pandemic; the Department of Environmental Protection to regulate noise complaints; and the FDNY to deal with occupancy issues and large crowding.
He said the agencies have been pointing fingers at one another rather than working together in a coordinated fashion to address community concerns stemming from the hotel.
The lawmakers are now calling on the mayor to do something immediately before someone gets seriously hurt or killed.
“We must act immediately, before more residents fall victim to senseless violence,” they wrote.
The petition was created on change.org last night and had more than 200 signatures at the time of publication.
Neither the Umbrella Hotel manager or owner were available for comment.