Neighbors have noticed some peculiar noises coming from inside the ancient Hotel Riverview in Greenwich Village.
Could it be the shrieking ghosts of the sunken Titanic, whose lost souls are rumored to haunt the former seaman’s flophouse—or, is it just the clamor of illegal construction?
In recent weeks, the Buildings Department has responded to multiple allegations of covert renovations occurring inside the Jane Street landmark in spite of a Jan. 8 stop-work order imposed upon the premises.
Records show that the city received at least three reports of possible violations last Thursday alone. On Tuesday, the city slapped up another stop-work order, citing hotel management’s failure to obey the first one, and issued a $2,000 fine.
The specter of ownership, at least, became clearer last week, when city records confirmed months of speculation that bicoastal hospitality impresarios Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode would be taking over the century-old inn.
The duo paid $27 million for the five-story, 211-room hotel, built in 1908, according to paperwork filed on Jan. 17.
The partners have reportedly pledged to restore the building’s original facade, rebuild a cupola on the hotel’s roof and completely redo the interior in a style similar to their other Manhattan lodgings, including the swank Bowery Hotel, Maritime Hotel and Lafayette House. (The pair also operate the exclusive Waverly Inn restaurant on Bank Street.)
If the old hotel’s new owners seem a bit overeager to begin all the heavy lifting, starting work weeks before the closing date—and prior to securing the proper permits—then perhaps that’s because of the Herculean task before them.
The place could obviously use a few repairs, as evidenced by the chunk of decorative molding that dangerously popped loose and fell from the second level in November, crashing onto the sidewalk below.
The historic ramshackle Hotel Riverview has been ranked the 308th most popular out of 339 hotels in New York City, according to travel site Tripadvisor.com—barely edging out Midtown’s seedy Hotel Carter, which earned the dubious distinction as the nation’s dirtiest hotel this year.
While guests might not find a decaying corpse under the mattress, as did one person at the Hotel Carter last summer, there are other Old New York charms to discover at the Hotel Riverview. A reported bedbug infestation on the fourth floor back in November, for instance, remains an “open violation,” according to city records.
The accommodations are admittedly “no-frills.” None of the guest rooms have their own bathrooms, and housekeeping seems to be self-service: “LINENS & TOWELS ARE EXCHANGED ONLY WHEN THE SOLIED [sic] ARE RETURNED,” according to a sign in the lobby, where a crusty concierge conducted business from behind a thick sheet of glass, as if he were your edgy-neighborhood liquor store owner.
It’s certainly not the most welcoming environment. “No rooms,” the gruff innkeeper informed The Observer around midnight on Monday, even as he counted cash from another customer.
In keeping with its cheap looks, the Hotel Riverview used to be quite the bargain for Manhattan. While the average room rate has risen to nearly $300 per night, according to city figures, a single boarder could shack up at the Riverview for less than $200 per week, or roughly $30 a night. “Exceptionally moderate prices makes popular [sic] with artists, writers, students (and naturally their parents) as well as businessmen and women here for a night or more,” according to the hotel’s Web site.
Lately, though, the hotel hasn’t been accepting any new roomers. “Check back in a month or so,” said the guy at the counter.