Demand has pushed construction back for more than two years, costing delays the developer has stated of up to $ 30 million, and freezing tenants on a construction site in time.
A work interruption order was issued and an investigation found evidence of harassment against tenants, leading to a hearing that dragged on through December. At that point, the developers unexpectedly revealed a document they had found in the city archives that exempted the hotel from the need for certification.
Days later, the department dropped the case.
Tenants like Ms. Martin, who supported the investigation, were stunned. "An agency that is supposed to protect us from harassment dropped the case right at the end of the process," she said. "That could happen to anyone in town if it happened to us."
The tenants' association (advocating the renovation) was upset that work had stopped at all, and accused the town and its vocal neighbors of pursuing what they considered a frivolous case. "It was a shame," said Zoe Pappas, 68, the president of the tenants' association, which represents 30 residents who live in 20 apartments.
The developers see the abrupt end of the case as evidence that this was all just a delaying tactic. "What was the point?" said Mr Drukier, a BD Hotels owner who bought the Chelsea in 2016 for $ 250 million. "We tried to complete a building that has been under construction for several years."
The housing authorities found evidence of harassment but declined to disclose further information. "While this particular legal challenge has been withdrawn, the city has a wide range of tools in place to protect New Yorkers from harassment," Anthony Proia, a department spokesman, said in a statement.
Now that the workers are back, it is also the complaints from the tenants that supported the harassment case. The water just ran cold again. Sometimes it also runs brown. Susan and Jonathan Berg, who live on the 10th floor, were disturbed by incessant noise from fans on the roof. And construction dust blows into Ms. Martin's apartment again and again. "It's a different level of horror," she said.