The controversial renovation of a homeless shelter near Manhattan’s “Billionaire’s Row” in New York City has come to a final conclusion: an appeals court has rejected a case won by residents last year. The court decision paves the way for Mayor Michael White’s long-held plan to turn the Park Savoy Hotel into a 140-person male homeless shelter.
The Park Savoy Hotel on West 58th Street was included in Whitehouse’s plan to “build/convert 90 homeless shelters,” and construction was set to begin in 2018 without notifying the community. The project was later suspended after strong protests and legal action by the community.
Last August, after two years of protests and discussions, the residents finally gained the sympathy of an appeals court judge. The judge sent the case back to the next level of court because of the “safety” of the hotel, asking for more information on “whether the use of the building meets general safety and welfare standards.
But the New York State Court of Appeals ruled this Thursday (May 27) that no further meetings were needed to gather information on the renovation project. The ruling is the final green light for the hotel to become a shelter, and since this is not a federal issue, the decision is now almost final.
The hotel is not far from One57, New York City’s most luxurious residential apartment building and “Billionaire’s Row,” which is surrounded by very affluent neighborhoods.
The West 58th Street Coalition, which is protesting the homeless shelter project, expressed its deep concern on its website.
“According to the Homeless Coalition, many of these homeless people suffer from serious mental illness, addiction and other serious mental problems; in addition, the city acknowledges that some of them have criminal records.”
Residents believe that placing such people in a densely populated community and a tourist destination for visitors poses a significant safety risk. In addition, the mayor’s plan would require an annual investment of $50,000 for each of the Travellers.
“We believe the mayor’s so-called ‘Turning the Tide’ (i.e., giving 90 shelters to Travellers) plan is deeply flawed and both costly and does not address the housing shortage at all.” In a statement, the West 58th Street residents wrote, “The billions of dollars the city plans to spend over the next five years should be focused on providing permanent housing for the homeless, not shelters like the Savoy Park Hotel, where only two or three people can live in a house. Moreover, having a large group of men living in a shelter creates opportunities for conflict and crime, which is the opposite of giving them the opportunity to live in a place where they retain privacy and dignity.”
After the latest verdict was announced, people in the community have told the media that people will sell their homes and move out of the area.