The Real Deal New York

Plans for a Queens homeless shelter may have driven primary loss for Marge Markey

De Blasio administration's plans for 115-bed homeless shelter sparked community outrage

September 15, 2016 10:01AM

Margaret Markey and  59-40 55th Road in Maspeth

Margaret Markey and the Holiday Inn Express 59-40 55th Road in Maspeth

A planned hotel-to-shelter may have cost Queens Assembly member Marge Markey her seat.

Markey, a Democrat first elected in 1998, lost the primary by a considerable margin to 30-year-old lawyer and New York City council aide, Brian Barnwell. His campaign focused heavily on opposing a hotel-to-homeless conversion proposed by the de Blasio administration that has been slated for Maspeth. Markey’s backers say his strong opposition struck a chord with the community, Politico reported.

The de Blasio administration, citing a need to move away from cluster housing, had planned to turn a Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road into a 115-bed homeless shelter for adult families. But the plan was met with widespread condemnation from local officials — who filed lawsuits to stop it — and furious community members. Last week, the owner of the Holiday Inn, Laxmi Management’s Harshad Patel, announced he would pull out of the deal amid fervent community opposition.

While Marge Markey did oppose the construction of the shelter, Brian Barnwell was better able to leverage the community response into votes, the news website reported.

“The entire community was up in arms about it,” Dennis Stephan, a Maspeth resident who serves on the board of the Juniper Civic Association, told Politico. “Brian Barnwell was out there every single night. And the community really focused in on Markey not being there.” [Politico]Miriam Hall