BY SAM SPOKONY On May 1, a new state law solidifying the statutes against illegal hotels went into effect, finally giving the city a solid basis by which it can begin to prosecute buildings in violation. This reporter contacted Toshi and scheduled a meeting with General Manager Jason Montello at 316 W.
Montello was referring to the high profits managers of illegal hotels make through the rooms they rent. Not only did he continue to deny the fact that Toshi still uses its apartments as illegal hotels, Montello claimed that the company had been victimized by the new state law and Bloomberg’s crackdown. But many other legal tenants at Toshi’s various buildings throughout the city are not as content with the illegal rentals that take place outside their doors. Part of Toshi’s ability to avoid more frequent violations and investigations is most likely due to the underground nature of their rental process. Tom Cayler, chairperson of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance’s Illegal Hotel Committee, understands very well the reasons why a company like Toshi would want to hide its unlawful operations, and has had experience dealing with the shadowy circumstances that often surround them. Although Montello also told this reporter that Toshi no longer has a hand in rentals at 808 Driggs, it’s clear that the building is still an illegal hotel hot spot.


Robert Chan did not respond to questions regarding the activity of his company, as attempts to reach him through Montello or other Toshi representatives were unsuccessful. Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this newspaper, in whole or in part, can be reproduced or redistributed.
In an effort to strengthen enforcement and remove loopholes, the law also states that the use of any single unit of a residential building for transient guests is illegal. Because the apartments used for unlawful rentals are not registered with the Department of Buildings and are not subsequently zoned as commercial use, owners pay far less in taxes than they would if operating a legitimate hotel.
Previously, a majority of units needed to be for transient use for a building to qualify as illegal. As a result of lower taxes, Toshi can charge lower prices to tourists, creating a situation that is both immensely lucrative and never short on prospective vacation renters. Icon was called for a comment from the manager, but a leasing coordinator named Latifa refused to comply — and shared her own opinion of the situation.
The company changed its name from Hotel Toshi to Toshi Apartments after May 1 — and upon speaking with Montello, it was clear he attempts to create the appearance that the company no longer engages in illegal rentals.


When asked about his knowledge of the rentals, the building superintendent replied with a reference to the Toshi offices — saying, “Oh, you want a room?
She said that Icon Realty Management, the company that owns her building, cares more about appeasing Toshi than catering to legal residents.
Instead of a single unit making them $1,200 to $1,500 under rent stabilization, they can then make maybe $5,000 a month. You know, there are issues you can clear up when you move into an apartment if you have a permanent neighbor.



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