Queens hotel-to-shelter conversion plan derailed by protesters

Laxmi Management head Harshad Patel says outrage is too great

The Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road 
The Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road 

The opponents of a hotel-shelter conversion in Queens may have finally got their way. The co-owner of the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth that had been set to become a homeless shelter says he’s pulling out of the deal.

Protesters planned to converge outside the home of Harshad Patel, the principal of Laxmi Management, demanding the he drop the deal he made with the city, the New York Daily News reported. Patel told the paper that the outrage over the project is too great, and he has decided “not to move forward.”

The plan had been for the Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road to become a 115-bed homeless shelter for adult families. The city has relied on hotels and motels to increasingly house the homeless as it moves away from cluster housing. The cost of housing the homeless in hotels cost an estimated $50 million in the past year.

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The idea has been met with enormous resistance from furious community members and local officials. Last week, Queens council member Elizabeth Crowley filed a lawsuit to stop the shelter from going ahead. She argued these types of hotels aren’t legal because they deny homeless families their right to access cooking facilities.

But while some community members told the newspaper they are going to “celebrate, but cautiously,” de Blasio administration officials said the deal is not off, but the opening will be pushed back by a few weeks. [NYDN]Miriam Hall