The owner of the Upper West Side’s Lucerne hotel insists that there are “no problems” at the joint, now housing hundreds of homeless including recovering drug addicts — even as he’s put his own area mansion up for sale since the new neighbors moved in.
But at least three apparent residents suffered medical episodes on the block Tuesday — two of them in the span of just 20 minutes — adding to residents’ growing complaints of brazen drug use, broad-daylight masturbation and public urination since the move-in at the Lucerne and two other area hotels.
But owner Sam Domb insisted to The Post in an exclusive phone interview prior to the day’s episodes that all is well.
“We have no problems at the Lucerne,” he said.
At first, Domb claimed he was “forced” to welcome the homeless into the hotel at West 79th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, part of the city’s effort to empty packed congregate shelters to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“The contract was from FEMA,” he said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is picking up 75 percent of the program’s costs in a split with the city. “I didn’t have a choice.”
But by the abrupt end of the interview, Domb conceded that he had a say in the matter — which he would use to terminate the arrangement when the contract expires in October.
“I will not renew,” he said, before suddenly hanging up the phone.
Domb’s remarks came as The Post learned that on Aug. 4 — just over a week after the homeless moved into the Lucerne — Domb put his West 81st Street mansion on the market for $12.9 million.
The six-bedroom, six-bathroom spot near Riverside Drive dates to 1898 and features views of the Hudson, a garden and an 18-person dining room, according to a listing with Leslie J. Garfield.
Domb previously listed the 8,200-square-foot sprawl for $16 million in 2017, but is trying again at a time when many of his fellow well-heeled Upper West Siders are pulling up stakes, citing the tanking quality of life.
“This was not well thought out,” said Dr. Sejal Shah of the city’s dropping hundreds of homeless people into the neighborhood without warning to the community.
Shah, who lives in the neighborhood, says she treats homeless men with drug addictions and wants them to get the help they need, but that dropping them en masse in hotels in residential areas doesn’t benefit anyone.
“I take care of these people, but at the end of the day, they shouldn’t be here,” she said. “It isn’t safe.”
Shah, 44, said that she and her husband aren’t looking to leave, but that they will switch to home-schooling their kids to minimize their exposure to the new arrivals.
“We want to stay at the school, but safety is a concern,” she said. “There was just a woman stabbed at Broadway and 72nd Street in broad daylight, and men [are] masturbating in public,” she said referring to the noon-time stabbing of a woman in a subway station last Thursday.
“My office is at 75th and Central Park West and it doesn’t feel safe to walk. I don’t want to expose my kids or have to explain it.”
She would have had plenty to explain on Tuesday morning.
In the span of just 20 minutes, there were two medical emergencies on the Lucerne’s block.
At around 10:30 a.m., a Lucerne shelter resident got into a spat with a street-corner coffee vendor and attempted to yank him through the window of his cart.
The spooked clerk told a Post reporter who witnessed the incident that the man appeared high and flipped out over an issue with the toasted muffins he ordered.
“He order and throw on the floor and grab my hand and pull me,” the vendor said. “It’s getting bad, out of control here.”
Just minutes later, the man clutched the corner of a building and began screaming incoherently.
Five staffers ran from the building to try to render aid, as he yelled, “No! You can’t! No!” while slapping and punching the sidewalk.
The man was ultimately loaded into an ambulance that arrived on the scene — joining another emergency vehicle already on the block treating a second man who’d suffered an apparent overdose at 10:15 a.m.
During the chaos, three residents of the Lucerne screamed at a Post reporter documenting the scene.
“People OD everywhere, go cover 125th Street,” one man yelled. “Get the f–k out of here!”
Just hours after the second man was taken away by ambulance, he was back outside the Lucerne, palling around with a group of other men, one of them clutching a bag of what resembled marijuana.
A third man required medical attention later Tuesday afternoon.
Frank Scagluiso, an Upper West Sider and retired NYPD lieutenant who once worked in the department’s now-defunct Homeless Outreach Unit, has become fed up with the decline.
“Last night, in front of the ice cream place on Amsterdam, families [were] sitting with little kids and this guy is screaming ‘Suck my d–k!’ while thrusting his hips at them,” Scagluiso recounted. “I’m across the street in front of my home and this guy comes by and yells at me to mind my f–king business!”
Scagluiso, 56, said that he is no longer comfortable letting his 11-year-old daughter walk to school in the neighborhood he has called home for 18 years.
“I’m fairly confident I can handle myself but what about these women and kids around here?” he asked.
Curtis Sliwa and his Guardian Angels safety patrol have recently begun regular safety patrols in the neighborhood in an attempt to restore order and ease worried residents.
“I’m happy to see them out here. At least they can call 911 if they see something. Better than nothing,” Scagluiso said.
Though the former Finest questioned why there isn’t a stepped-up police presence.
“I don’t understand why there is no foot patrol, no car here right now,” he said. “It’s that bad.
“This is as bad as it has ever been.”
City Hall did not respond to a request for comment.
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