NY’s Highest Court Tosses Suit Against Billionaires’ Row Homeless Shelter

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New York City’s plan to open a homeless shelter in a former hotel near Billionaires’ Row got the go-ahead after the state’s highest court dismissed a lawsuit from a group of residents to derail the facility.

The Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed a lower court decision that allowed a suit against the city turning the former Park Savoy Hotel at 158 West 58th Street into a homeless shelter, Bloomberg first reported. The court ruled that a previous determination to throw out the residents’ legal challenge was “rational.”

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“We appreciate the court’s affirming the city’s determination to provide New Yorkers experiencing homelessness with shelter at this site and look forward to opening our doors at this location as soon as possible,” a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Social Services said in a statement. “We’re confident that working together with our vital not-for-profit social service provider partners and neighbors, through support and compassion, our clients will be warmly welcomed as they get back on their feet here and we will make this the best experience it can be for all during these challenging times.”

A local group — the West 58th Street Coalition — first filed a lawsuit against the city over the shelter in 2018, arguing that the property had fire safety issues because there’s only one entrance in and out of it.

However, the New York City Department of Homeless Services previously said that the New York City Fire Department and the New York City Department of Buildings approved the nine-story building, which backs against the One57 luxury tower that boasts $100 million condos, to be used as a shelter. 

The Department of Homeless Services also upgraded the sprinkler system, added more smoke detectors, and upgraded the room doors to make it safer.

A judge ruled against the West 58th Street Coalition’s suit in 2019, but the group won an interim stay later that year as it appealed the decision.

The state’s appellate court ruled that the Manhattan appeals court overstepped its authority and cannot “second guess” the decision by “granting a hearing to find additional facts or consider evidence not before the agency when it made its determination.” 

“The state Court of Appeal’s ruling to overturn the Appellate Court’s decision to conduct a full hearing regarding the proposed the 140-person Park Savoy homeless shelter on West 58th Street in Manhattan ignores evidence that could result in tragedy, putting shelter residents, first responders and the community in real danger,” Suzanne Silverstein, the president of the West 58th Street Coalition, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the city and Court of Appeals have determined that high safety standards to not apply to the homeless.”

Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Weest 58th Street Coalition.