Parked Van Outfitted With Bed Near East River Fetches Up to $70 a Night - NBC New York

Parked Van Outfitted With Bed Near East River Fetches Up to $70 a Night

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    Parked Van Outfitted With Bed Near East River Fetches Up to $70 a Night

    An unassuming van parked near the East River waterfront in Queens has become hot new lodgings for tourists seeking a cheap bed to sleep on, but it's not clear if the city will allow the setup to continue for much longer. Roseanne Colletti has more. (Published Thursday, July 23, 2015)

    An unassuming van parked near the East River waterfront in Queens has become hot new lodgings for tourists seeking a cheap bed to sleep on, but it's not clear if the city will allow the setup to continue for much longer. 

    The van, parked on Second Street in Long Island City, has been tricked out into sleeping quarters with pillows and mattresses, and rents for about $39 to $69 a night, just steps away from the million-dollar views on the water. 

    It was already occupied by a German tourist when NBC 4 New York visited Thursday afternoon. She declined to let cameras inside. 

    Renters can use a restroom at the park down the street. Reviews for the listing on AirBnB -- which has since been redirected to other nearby apartments for short-term rentals -- were positive, but some also point out the obvious deficiencies. 

    "The bed was comfortable and cozy," one reviewer wrote. "If you don't mind feeling dirty for a few days and need to save money, then this is for you." 

    Owner Jonathan Powley lives in the neighborhood and said he initially used the van -- a 1979 camper -- to sell Christmas trees. When it broke down last year and sat idle, he decided to spruce it up and list it on AirBnB to help pay for repairs and "to give adventurous NYC visitors a more affordable alternative to traditional apartments and hotels," he said in an email. 

    Over time, he added more vehicles to his fleet, including a yellow taxi cab minivan. 

    Prowley said he's a standup comedian who currently works as a suite attendant at Yankee Stadium, and with a degree in hospitality management, enjoys working in service jobs and loves meeting the people who rent his vehicles. 

    "One of my favorite memories is when I met some guests who had just traveled 24 hours from Malaysia," he wrote in the email. "I checked them in and walked them down to the LIC waterfront. One of them started crying. I was worried and quickly asked if she was okay. She responded, 'It's just so beautiful. I have only ever seen this in "How I Met Your Mother" and "Friends.""

    "It's a diverse and interesting life, and I love it," he said. 

    The Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement said in a statement it was "aware of recent reports of vans being rented on short-term hotel listing sites and is currently investigating this issue. The office takes the containment of illegal transient use seriously and is committed to effectively addressing the city's hotel problem." 

    The AirBnB listing appeared to have been taken down by Thursday evening. 


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