From the New York Post:
The new homeless shelter set to open up in the former Park Savoy Hotel in Manhattan’s “Billionaires’ Row” has been put on ice — at least, for the time being.
The group of residents suing over the city’s contentious housing plan was granted a temporary injunction halting the construction at the West 58th Street shelter.
The West 58th Street Coalition won an appeal of an earlier ruling by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Alexander Tisch, who denied the activists a preliminary injunction earlier this month.
Residents of the ritzy block, just south of Central Park between Sixth and Seventh avenues, sued the city in July, claiming the proposed shelter was a firetrap because it has winding, narrow staircases and not enough exits or sprinklers.
But they also feared an increase in crime and “loitering” in the area and that they would “face un-quantifiable economic harm to the value of their property” thanks to their new unwanted neighbors, according to previously filed court papers.
In his ruling dated Dec. 12, Tisch slapped down the well-heeled residents’ arguments as far-fetched.
“While safety issues constitute an important concern, the shelter has been issued a temporary certificate of occupancy and is presumably safe to open,” the judge wrote. “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.”
But on Wednesday, First Department Appellate Judge Jeffrey Oing issued a temporary stay in the proceeding so that the full appeals panel can further look into the matter.
“It’s sort of the city’s way to rush people in,” groused Les Fischer, who lives on the block and was one of about nine protesters outside the old Savoy with signs that read “Stop Unsafe Shelters.”
“We’re celebrating for a homeless population that would be put in a very unsafe firetrap building. That’s all we’re celebrating.”
He added, “It’s one of this situations where I believe the city looked the building over but didn’t really do their homework. Now they’ve found out how bad this building is in every way, shape and form. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”
Further arguments from both sides are due in January.
Lawyer Randy Mastro, a deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani who now represents the coalition, said the temporary certificate of occupancy was issued for 33 units.
No one yet lives inside the construction site but Mastro said lawyers for the city indicated at a hearing on Wednesday that “they could have the go-ahead to open any day now.”
“Fire experts have unanimously said it’s a fire trap, a disaster waiting to happen,” he said. “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.”
Tensions over the Savoy shelter plans have been simmering for the past year after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s shocking announcement that 150 homeless men would one day be housed there.
The plan is part of a program to create 90 new shelters across all five boroughs.
The city Law Department said it was confident that the appeals court would eventually find activists’ claims bogus.
“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.
“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.”
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