Gramercy Park Block Association - Neighborhood News #573
GPBA Archives: A Look Back in Gramercy Park History
Federal Seizure of the Kenmore Hotel: 20 Years Later 
GPBA's role in the takeover and rehabilitation of the Kenmore
1994 federal seizure of the Kenmore Hotel, a warren of 641 rooms on East 23rd Street, was notorious for drug dealing and crime. Credit John Sotomayor/The New York Times
On 7/2/14 New York Times published an article
The Gramercy Park Block Association played a major role in the takeover and rehabilitation of the Kenmore.  Below is a timeline describing GPBA's involvement.
TIMELINE: GPBA's Role in the Takeover and Rehabilitation of the Kenmore Hotel
The Kenmore Hotel in the early 1990s: The "epicenter of crime in the Gramercy Park neighborhood" 

October 1993: Harrison's Son Attacked on Gramercy Park 
Arlene Harrison's then 15-year-old son Tim was brutally beaten by a random "wilding" gang outside their home on Gramercy Park.


March 1994: Formation of The Gramercy Park Block Association 

As a result, Harrison and neighbors established The Gramercy Park Block Association, a community advocacy group dedicated to protecting the safety, security, and quality of life of the neighborhood.  


March 1994: Town Hall Meeting with Police Commissioner Bratton 

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton co-hosted the Gramercy Park Town Hall meeting to address rampant crime.

Newly elected Mayor Rudolph Giuliani reached out to GPBA President Harrison to organize a Town Hall meeting to address rampant crime. The meeting was co-hosted by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Giuliani's newly appointed Police Commissioner William J. Bratton and Harrison.


Over 900 residents and business owners crowded into the Brotherhood Synagogue to hear tales of horror about the 22-floor 641-room Kenmore Hotel located at 145 E 23rd St (next to the Post Office), which had become the "epicenter of crime in the neighborhood."


Dire Conditions at the Kenmore


They described rampant drug dealing, armed robberies, break-ins (3-4 times a day), prostitution, rampaging gangs of former Rikers inmates, violent fights, murders and crime that spilled over into the streets. 


They described collapsing floors, gaping holes, little sanitation, rats, no heat, electricity or hot water for weeks at a time, and for months elderly having to walk up 22 floors due to broken elevators.


Residents living in fear


Residents, many with special needs, were so frequently victimized that they became prisoners in their own rooms, living in constant fear and afraid to come out. Community residents feared walking  by the Kenmore, and nearby

businesses frequently closed. 

Governor Mario Cuomo visited the Kenmore Hotel

Course of Action  


Congresswoman Maloney and Police Commissioner Bratton remained with Harrison after the meeting to determine a course of action.

Maloney then went to the Justice Department and in 10 days Attorney General Janet Reno visited the Kenmore.  Governor Mario Cuomo also visited the Kenmore.

June 8, 1994: Federal Seizure of the Kenmore
After a series of undercover operations over a 3 month period, Federal Marshalls and the FBI seized the Kenmore Hotel, the largest asset seizure in the history of the federal government to this day.
Hero of the Kenmore: 13th Precinct Police Officer Scott Kimmins
Gramercy Park community and officials honor Hero of the Kenmore Police Officer Scott Kimmins
The takeover succeeded in such a short time (3 months) because of evidence collected and carefully documented during an 8 year period by 13th Precinct Police Officer Scott Kimmins.
Officer Kimmins' role in the takeover

On a daily basis, Officer Kimmins addressed hazardous conditions, mediated disputes, arrested dealers, comforted the innocent, and worked with city agencies to improve conditions and control crime.  
Kimmins made daily visits to residents with special needs, who he treated like family who "needed my personal protection." Residents counted on his visits, and those too terrified to leave their rooms, would come out only when he was there.    
GPBA's Role in Rehabilitation of the Kenmore
The GPBA gathered residential support for Housing and Services Inc. to take over the Kenmore, which underwent a $34M gut rehabilitation in 1999 and was renamed Kenmore Hall.  Harrison became Chair of the Community Advisory Board.
In 1996, Mayor  Giuliani unveiling restoration plans for the Kenmore.

In 1996, Congressman Carolyn Maloney celebrating the Kenmore Hall Partnership with the Gramercy Park community


November 1999: Kimmins and Harrison Honored
Parks Commissioner Henry Stern names Scott Kimmins "Kenmore" and Harrison "Petite Gendarme", which means "little policeman."
Kenmore Hall Today: A National Model of Affordable Housing 
Kenmore Hall's population includes formerly homeless, chronically ill, frail elderly, people living with HIV/AIDS, and homeless veterans.  It is now "a national model of affordable supportive housing" 
GPBA Neighbors Helping Neighbors' Support of Kenmore Hall 
GPBA Neighbors Helping Neighbors Annual Pantry Drive: Kenmore Hall Staff pick up donations 
GPBA Neighbors Helping Neighbors continues to support the Kenmore residents throughout the year with food, clothing, furniture, educational supplies, other donations. We also provide volunteers for annual holiday dinners and other programs.
GPBA Neighbors Helping Neighbors Back to School Drive: Mikayla receives her backpack filled with school supplies
GPBA Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Volunteers and staff serve holiday dinner
Thanksgiving 2011 - Kenmore
GPBA Neighbors Helping Neighbors volunteer at Kenmore Thanksgiving Dinner
Links to past articles: The Kenmore and the GPBA's role in its rehabilitation