NYC Cracks Down on Thousands of Delinquent Commercial Water Customers

Mix of hotels, offices, retailers and homeowners owes roughly $102M

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The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is about to up the ante on 2,400 chronically delinquent water customers.

The agency will send shutoff notices to hotels, office buildings and retailers whose water tab collectively comes to roughly $102 million. The notices start a 15-day clock for offenders to go into a payment plan or have their water turned off.

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Hotels are the worst offenders on the DEP’s list with the biggest scofflaw being Fortuna Realty Group’s Hotel Hayden at 127 West 28th Street.

Hotel Hayden describes itself as a “boutique for trendsetters, stylists and sophisticates” and the Chelsea lodging charges $419 per night for a room with a king bed. Yet, it owes the city $372,027 in unpaid water charges. 

The hotel’s general manager, Richard Chambers, could not be reached for comment, and Morris Moinian, the principal and founder of Fortuna, did not respond to requests for comment.

Mayor Eric Adams said the city was going to place a sticker on the front of Hotel Hayden to send a message.

“They consider themselves to be one of the coolest and hippest hotels in the city,” Adams said during a Wednesday photo op. “There’s nothing cool or hip about keeping $400,000 in overdue water bills.”

Three other hotels are also way behind on their water bills.

Dexter House, a former single-room occupancy building converted into a hostel at 345 West 86th Street, owes $330,582, according to the DEP. 

And the city will also send shutoff notices to The Draper, a hotel at 4-6 West 37th Street in Midtown that owes $307,690, and The Mave NYC at 62 Madison Avenue in NoMad, which is on the hook for $258,716.

New York City charges $11.63 per 100 cubic feet of combined water and sewer service, a rate that comes out to about 1 cent per gallon, according to DEP commissioner Rohit Aggarwala.

Unpaid bills mounted during the pandemic, and the city’s ability to enforce past-due accounts was hamstrung when the New York City Council canceled the city’s tax lien sale in 2020.

DEP announced an amnesty program for delinquent water customers last year and ramped up its crackdown in February. 

With additional reporting by Mark Hallum.

Abigail Nehring can be reached at anehring@commercialobserver.com.