Plan for homeless men’s shelter on Billionaires’ Row temporarily stopped

Posted On Fri, December 28, 2018 By

Posted On Fri, December 28, 2018 By In Midtown West, Policy

Via Wikimedia 

The West 58th Street Coalition, a group of residents suing over the city’s controversial plan to open a homeless shelter on Manhattan’s Billionaires’ Row, has won a temporary injunction to halt construction at the former Park Savoy Hotel, the New York Post reported Thursday. The residents sued the city in July, claiming the proposed shelter posed a significant fire hazard and also fearing their new neighbors would usher in increased crime and loitering in the area as well as “un-quantifiable economic harm to the value of their property,” as court papers stated.

In January, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to open a new homeless shelter for 150 single adult men in the former Park Savoy Hotel at 158 West 58th Street. But residents near the area, which is home to some of the most expensive residences in the world, sued the city to block the shelter from opening.

As 6sqft previously reported, the West 58th Street Coalition started a petition on Change.org, which says instead of the city paying $50,000 per person to stay at the Park Savoy “a homeless man could have his own apartment, living in the neighborhood where he came from.”

On Dec. 12, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Alexander Tisch ruled against the residents, stating: “Aside from the safety issues, petitioners’ alleged harm regarding loitering and property values is speculative and does not form a sufficient basis for granting a preliminary injunction.”

On Wednesday this week, First Department Appellate Judge Jeffrey Oing issued a temporary stay so that a full appeals panel can investigate. Further arguments from both sides will be heard in January. “Fire experts have unanimously said it’s a fire trap, a disaster waiting to happen,” Randy Mastro, a lawyer who represents the coalition said, citing the building’s narrow staircases and insufficient sprinklers and exits.

“That’s not safe. That’s why the coalition I represent went to court as a matter of public safety and general welfare to not only protect potential occupants, but also the firefighters who will have to fight fires there and the neighbors who literally are adjoining the property on both sides.”

As 6sqft previously reported, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his “Turning the Tide on Homelessness” plan last February, with the aim of reducing the number of shelter facilities citywide by 45 percent. As part of the initiative, the city hopes to eliminate the use of 360 cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities and replace them with roughly 90 new shelters across the boroughs.

The city Law Department appears confident that the appeals court will rule in their favor. “We believe the lower court was correct in denying the injunction and once the appeals panel gets a full briefing that decision will stand,” a spokesman said in a statement to the Post.

“The City remains focused on opening this site as soon as possible so that we can provide high-quality shelter and employment services to hard-working New Yorkers experiencing homelessness as they get back on their feet.”

[Via New York Post]

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