The city's Department of Buildings closed the L Hostel in Harlem last night, leaving guests - many of them stranded in the city because of the Icelandic volcano situation - out on the streets.
The agency issued an "order to vacate" because the building supposedly only has one staircase, according to The New York Post. NY1 reports the six-story residential building was illegally converted into a hostel.
The Department of Buildings Web site lists a slew of complaints on the hostel, located on 1961 Adam Clayton Boulevard (7th Avenue), including, "ILLEGAL CONVERSION PEOPLE LIVING IN BASEMENT MORE PEOPLE RENTING SINGLE BEDS THERE ARE BUNK BEDS AND THERE ARE MANY BEDS IN THE BASEMENT..THERE IS NOT ENOUGH LIGHT," from December 2009, and "CALLER STATES ILLEGAL CONVERSION OF RESIDENTIAL BUILDING INTO HOSTEL," from November 2009.
"I have the approved plan, and I was shocked by the fact that they are forcing us to kick people to the street with no reason," the L Hostel's owner, Gal Sela, told NY1. He has owned the building for five years and told NY1 it's legal.
One French tourist, Lala Gassana, 22, told the Post, "We booked here and it was very nice, and now we're being thrown out in the streets." She added, "I would have been happier staying here."
A Belgium woman's flight was canceled due to the ash cloud, stranding her in Philadelphia.
"We decided, why stay in Philly?" Elien Christiaen, 27, told the Post. "So we came here."
The Post reports that about 100 guests are now displaced.
Sela told NY1 he has not been able to get in touch with the agency, and they didn't return phone calls to the Post last night.