Imperial Court owner claims de Blasio nixed shelter plan

But spokesperson says mayor had no hand in rejection of conversion plan for 307 West 79th

307 West 79th Street
307 West 79th Street

Ron Edelstein, owner of The Imperial Court Hotel at 307 West 79th Street, accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of ordering the Department of Homeless Services to reject his plan to convert the site into a homeless shelter. A de Blasio spokesperson denied the claim, calling it “categorically false.”

Edelstein claims that a high-ranking agency official informed him of the mayor’s alleged order. Under Edelstein’s plan, the 227-room hotel would be transformed to hold 340 homeless people in 170 rooms. The city would not fund the conversion, but would instead pay nearly $18 million per year to cover staff, food and other services for each person in the shelter.

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Last month, the Department of Homeless Services sent Edelstein a rejection letter that said the project “does not fit with the agency’s priorities.” Assembly member Linda Rosenthal and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer both oppose the project.

“These shelters have been used as cash cows without delivering suitable services or assistance to the homeless and as a means for slumlords to harass the remaining permanent tenants,” Rosenthal wrote in a letter, cited by the New York Post. [NYP]Mark Maurer