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Billionaires’ Row homeless shelter clears legal hurdle, but neighbors vow to fight it

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The shelter at the former Park Savoy Hotel will provide housing to 140 homeless individuals

A view of Billionaires Row looking south from Central Park Max Touhey

A contested homeless shelter the city plans to open on Billionaires’ Row can now move forward. A state Appellate Division denied a motion by opponents to extend a temporary injunction that placed a roadblock on the shelter last month, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

On Tuesday, the state Appellate Division’s First Judicial Department vacated the temporary relief granted by the court last month, allowing the project to continue. But the West 58th Street Coalition, a group of neighborhood residents that filed the lawsuit against the city last July, told WSJ that they would appeal this week’s ruling to the Court of Appeals, which would hear the case in the fall.

In their fight against the homeless shelter, members of the West 58th Street Coalition have cited fire safety concerns in the former Park Savoy Hotel building, where it will be located. According to the group’s lawsuit, the building has only one way to enter and exit, which is against city regulations. But since the former hotel was built in 1910, before at least two means of egress in a building were required for fire safety, the city has said that this building is not required to comply with the current regulation.

In response to the city using the so-called “grandfather clause,” the president of the West 58th Street Coalition Suzanne Silverstein, told WSJ that “anything the city sponsors should be at a higher level of safety, because the people they’re putting in there are already at a disadvantage.”

But Judge Alexander Tisch, who ruled in favor of the city back in April, said that the FDNY approved the building’s Fire Protection Plan.

“With yet another court affirming the City’s need for these crucial beds and determination that the shelter is safe, this is another victory for common sense and compassion,” Isaac McGinn, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Homeless Services, told Curbed in a statement. “We look forward to opening our doors to hard-working neighbors in need at this location as soon as possible—and will continue to work with the community to ensure our clients are embraced and supported as neighbors.”

The shelter, which will be located right behind the pricey One57 condo building, is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Turning the Tide plan and will be focused on supporting 140 homeless individuals who are currently employed or looking for employment.