Thursday, June 30 2022

A notorious Queens hotel that was the scene of the city’s first gunshot homicide on New Year’s morning – and long seen as a danger and a nuisance by neighbors – has closed.

On Friday night, the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens had posted “hotel closed” signs at the lobby entrance, advising neighbors and potential customers that it was no longer in business.

The hotel – on Queens Boulevard and 82nd Avenue – is located across from Borough Hall and near the Queens Courthouse.

After months of complaints, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday he would close the hotel after a triple shooting in early New Years morning left 20-year-old Robert Williams dead and two others injured and hospitalized.

Neighbors have lodged more than 100 complaints with local authorities and lawmakers, saying the hotel has become a hub for drugs, prostitution and violence.

They also complained that the hotel was home to illegal clubs started by revelers who rented rooms at low prices during the pandemic.

A shootout took place at the Umbrella over the summer; the local 102 pct. had been parked outside virtually 24/7 for months.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and local lawmakers joined neighbors in calling for the hotel to be closed.

Guardian angels began patrolling around Umbrella on Monday as the mayor promised he would take action to shut it down.

Angels founder Curtis Sliwas, noting the hotel’s proximity to the borough’s seat of power, called city officials “powerless” for allowing the hotel to remain open despite ample evidence that he welcomed criminal behavior.

De Blasio called the report of the murder of an innocent young man “very, very painful” and said the hotel “has been a plague on our community and it should not be in the future” .

“So we are going to use all the power of the city government to shut this down and stop hurting the community for what happened at this hotel,” the mayor said.

Richards, the new borough president, said it was “good news” that the Umbrella was shutting down, but took no joy in the murder of Robert Williams, whom he knew as a good child. from his neighborhood of Rosedale.

“Unfortunately, it took the death of a promising young man to shut this place down. I am outraged. This death was preventable, ”Richards said Friday night.

Neighbors complained that it took a tragedy to wake the town hall.

“The closure of the hotel should have taken place months ago. At the start of the pandemic, when bars and clubs closed, owners acted irresponsibly by lowering room rates, which drew a wave of virtual crime into the hotel and created the conditions for the spread of the disease. COVID, ”said Pamela Reinertsen, resident of Kew Gardens.

“As the violence escalated, it was only a matter of time before someone was killed. The Town Hall shed light on our concerns until the tragic death of a young man in front of the hotel last week.

“Sir. Williams’ senseless death likely would not have happened if the mayor’s office had not dragged its feet for months over community concerns about the out-of-control crime at this facility.

“Going forward,” she said, “the community expects the city to ensure that this facility is not used to disrupt and destroy the quality of life at Kew Gardens. “

The building that houses the Umbrella is for mixed use. Floors four to ten are dedicated to the hotel and floors 11 to 20 have apartments which are rented to year round tenants.

It is likely that the apartment complex will remain open in the short term.


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