On Sunday, a rally hosted by the Queens Coalition for Solidarity will demand the city shut down the Umbrella Hotel at 124-18 Queens Boulevard, which has been the site of two non-fatal shootings in the last six weeks.
The latest incident took place early in the morning on August 10, and left the hotel’s glass front doors shattered and riddled with bullets.
The surrounding community was skeptical when plans for a mixed-use building in the neighborhood first arose in 2008. They were worried about the transient nature of a hotel situated in a residential area with schools nearby.
Developers promised a five-star Savoy Kew Gardens, but that hotel never materialized. Instead management of the site changed hands between various lower-rated hotels including the Comfort Inn, which was operated simultaneously as a homeless shelter.
With its cheap rooms and close vicinity to public transportation, the Umbrella Hotel was an attractive option for airport travelers looking for a deal.
According to a resident of a neighboring apartment building, who asked to remain nameless, things bottomed out when the coronavirus pandemic struck New York City and tourism declined.
She says youngsters have been transforming the hotel into a makeshift nightclub for months with wild parties that often go on until 6 a.m. The resident explained people have been taking advantage of lower rates to rent out several adjoining accommodations to host parties.
Rooms are packed to the brim with guests, none of them wearing masks. There have also been reports of drug use and prostitution during the raucous events.
On one occasion, says the resident, someone tossed a bottle toward a fire escape on her building, causing damage to a window.
“The people who go to these events are totally oblivious to the surrounding residents,” she said. “But they’re not the ones that I hold accountable.
“The people who are accountable are the ones who own and manage the hotel,” continued the resident. “They are choosing to profiteer over this horrible situation and to turn a blind eye to who is coming in.”
This weekend's rally will take place in front of Borough Hall, where several local elected officials met Thursday with officers from the 102nd Precinct and community leaders to discuss ongoing disturbances at the Umbrella Hotel.
A number of city agencies were invited to convene at Borough Hall as well, but the majority declined to participate, according to Ethan Felder, Democratic Leader for the 28th Assembly District, who attended the meeting.
Umbrella Hotel management were also no-shows, and hotel officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal, who was involved in last week’s meeting, took to Twitter that afternoon to express concern over the situation, as well as his disturbance at a lack of action on part of the city.
“It’s unacceptable,” he says. “I don’t know what else needs to happen for them to take this situation seriously. It’s time for the mayor and City Hall to step up.”