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May 20, 2019

Proposed homeless shelter would do more harm than good: opponents

November 29, 2018
Robert Skallerup, former Manhattan Borough Commissioner, Dept. of Buildings speaks alongside homeless advocacy groups and city leaders to protest the proposed homeless shelter at Park Savoy Hotel. (Wes Parnell / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

A proposed Manhattan homeless shelter is a disaster waiting to happen, with hallways that are too narrow, rooms with no sprinklers and a small door that is the only exit from the building, opponents said Wednesday.

If the Park Savoy Hotel wasn’t good or safe enough for paying customers to spend the night, it definitely isn’t good or safe enough to operate as a homeless shelter, they said.

“The most egregious of all the offenses is that it only has one way out,” Roger Skallerup a former Department of Homeless Services facilities director said at a protest outside the hotel, where some of the safety concerns have been grandfathered because of the building’s age.

“You can’t grandfather safety,” Skallerup said. “It’s unsafe. If it opens, someone is going to get hurt fast. This is a tragedy just waiting to happen.”

De Blasio’s administration announced in February a $60.8 million plan to convert the Park Savoy to a shelter for single men. Members of the coalition complained at the time the plan was “sprung” on the neighborhood with little public notice.

The shelter would rise in a neighborhood where condos sell for tens of millions of dollars.

The Park Savoy — just a block south of Central Park, between Sixth and Seventh Aves. — backs up to the shiny 90-story One57 condo tower on W. 57th St., where apartments are offered for sale for up to $44 million.

Just up the street are two more supersize condo buildings under construction — the 95-story Central Park Tower and 82-story condo building.

But Tony Herbert, a community activist running for Public Advocate, said the focus shouldn’t be on property values.

“At the end of the day, this is wrong,” Herbert said. “This mayor and this city council need to wake up. These are lives that we are talking about. Let’s get away from the money and talk about the lives… this mayor does not care and we’ve got to light a fire under his behind.”

David Achelis, president of the West 50’s Neighborhood Association, was not part of the demonstration, but shared its concerns.

“I definitely support a shelter in the neighborhood but this is not the place,” Achelis said. “They wouldn’t let a hotel be here, so they shouldn’t let a homeless shelter be here. With all the tax breaks for big developers, it’s a shame we can’t get them involved in building homeless shelters. It’s a real shame we can’t find a better place for these people.”

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