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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide





Midtown, Manhattan


The former Park Savoy Hotel (center) beneath the cliffs of Billionaires Row (image via Google Maps).

April 3, 2018

There’s a new wrinkle in New York’s ongoing Tale of Two Cities. Residents and business owners have summoned a former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani to fight the city’s plan to stick a homeless shelter amid the luxury condo towers of Billionaires Row, Crain’s reports

So life on the gilded isle of Manhattan has come to this: Not On My Billionaires Row is the new Not In My Back Yard

The West 58th Street Coalition has hired lawyer Randy Mastro, a former deputy mayor under Giuliani, and plans to raise at least $300,000 to mount a possible court challenge based on New York state’s Article 78, which allows citizens to appeal an action taken by a government agency. 

“Who better to know when government screws up than a former deputy mayor who also litigates?” Mastro, now a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, said in an interview. “To locate the facility at this venue is just out of whack, it’s inexplicable.” 

The coalition complains that the city would be paying a premium to shelter the homeless near one of Manhattan’s priciest real estate corridors, where a penthouse sold for a record $100.5 million. Many of the residents opposing the proposal lived in the area well before the billionaires’ boom, and argue the shelter poses security concerns in a neighborhood where they run small businesses, push strollers and go out for evening walks. 

A nine-year contract with Westhab would convert the now-closed Park Savoy Hotel on West 58th Street into temporary housing for about 140 men at a cost of $63 million, or roughly $50,000 annually per person, the coalition estimates. That’s about 38 percent more than the $36,300 the city spent on average to shelter a homeless person for the year in 2017, according to the Mayor’s Management Report

“We’re taxpayers, we vote and we should have a say if the city is squandering money for this location that can be better spent for these men,” said Suzanne Silverstein, president of the West 58th Street Coalition, who’s lived in the area since 2005. “If they have that kind of money, why aren’t they doing something that offers a long-term solution?”

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