The owners of the Boston Fenway Inn hostel on Hemenway Street - who also own the tonier Copley Square Hotel - will learn Thursday whether the Boston Licensing Board will accept their offer to just shut the place down while they make upgrades to reduce the number of times police have to respond to deal with problem guests.
Shutting the place down should not be that much more of a hardship right now since the state has banned "non-essential" guests at hotels and lodging houses, but the inn currently has some 13 guests, some of whom would become immediately homeless if it were shut right away, according to Joshua Bird, general counsel for Hawkins Way Capital of Beverly Hills, CA, which owns the 60-room building. Bird estimated it would take a couple of days to help the 13 remaining guests find new lodging.
"We wouldn't you to voluntarily close down and have people homeless," board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said as part of a Zoomed hearing this morning. Before the hearing began, Joyce said the board would not deal with the issue, noted by police, of the inn accepting new guests during the current state of emergency without proof they were healthcare workers, first responders or other "essential" personnel, because that's a matter for the state, not the city.
Bird and the inn's local lawyer, Dennis Quilty, said they would get a plan to the board by its Thursday meeting on steps the inn would take in lieu of an immediate shutdown, including better signage warning guests about making noise and drinking outside and installation of additional security cameras and possibly hiring additional staff.
BPD licensing-unit detectives and D4 Capt. Steven Sweeney said police have had to respond to the inn nearly 40 times since Jan. 1, largely to deal with guests who don't want to leave when asked, either because their stay is over or because they've violated an inn rule, such as a prohibition on guests. Sweeney said inn managers and workers have been cooperative, but that, especially in the middle of a pandemic, that's just too many calls.
Quilty actually began the hearing by offering to waive the formal reading of police complaints and just voluntarily shutting the inn "in an effort to bring about changes needed to prop run the facility." Quilty acknowledged "there are some difficulties they've had obviously." But Joyce said that reading the reports was required because of the board's hearing rules.
BPD Licensing Det. Sgt. William Gallagher and Det. Eddie Hernandez recounted seven incidents just in April, including having to respond when a guest said a friend showed up at his room with an apparently underage female and said they were going to film a porno flick there, but didn't.
Other incidents included a woman who was refusing to leave her room on her checkout day and when police arrived she told them she'd found other people's clothes mixed in with hers in the building's dryer; a man who apparently piggybacked in behind a guest, went into the first-floor restroom and began screaming and babbling incoherently, one guest who called 911 several hours after he said another guest threatened him with a knife in a failed robbery attempt, only that guest claimed the first guest was trying to sell him drugs he didn't want; and a guest who was standing outside this past Friday drinking a nip and, as the two detectives watched, threw it on the ground when he was done and then went back inside.
During the last incident, Gallagher said, he and Hernandez went into the inn after him, made him pick up the nip and properly dispose of it and gave him a warning for drinking in public.