Community Board 7 wasn’t scheduled to meet again until September.
That, however, was before board members caught wind of a proposal to put a homeless shelter on a busy stretch of Webster Avenue.
Sam’s Floor Coverings at 3041 Webster Avenue, better known as Sam’s Carpets, has filed a building permit to add a third level to the two-floor commercial building.
The work application, filed January 26, 2017 and since approved, lists work to alter the building from commercial/mercantile use to R-1 residential, hotel and dormitory use and to add an additional floor with 7,940 square feet of additional space.
Local leaders have since learned the city is proposing a men’s shelter at the site.
At Monday’s emergency meeting at the Sister Annunciata Bethell Senior Center on 204th Street, Land Use, Zoning and Housing Committee chair Jean Hill explained the building is just steps from P.S. 20/ M.S. 20.
“That will be a 200-bed men’s shelter, and we have a lot of feedback from the community about this kind of structure being built directly across the street from a school,” she said.
Councilman Andrew Cohen gave board members and roughly two-dozen concerned residents a rundown on what he knew and what neighborhood residents could do about the plan.
He said he was willing to put his relationship with the mayor on the line to get the proposed site moved.
“It’s going to be a long four years if the administration and I cannot work this out,” Cohen said. “There is no compromise in that this site is unacceptable.”
Cohen told attendees that simply railing against the proposed site would yield little result, and instead asked for input on other potential sites in the area better suited for such a facility that he could float as alternatives to City Hall.
“Telling the city ‘no’ in a vacuum I don’t think will be proactive,” Cohen said.
Some in attendance brought up 3600 Jerome Avenue, the former FEGS Bronx Mental Health Center located near the Woodlawn train station they said DHS had eyed in the past.
Board chair Adaline Walker-Santiago said the borough president’s office notified the board of the possible shelter in October of 2016.
However a city representative had told her just recently that no final decision had been made about the site and that the city was open to dialogue. Even so, she urged swift action by the board to avoid being caught off guard.
“One thing said at the end of our conversation is that if the site is chosen, a community board can propose an alternative site, so maybe we need to take a look at that,” she said. “If not FEGS, what is an alternative site that is not near a school?”
The proposed shelter would not be the first to be built in the northwest Bronx in the last few years.
Landing Road Residence, a building now under construction at 233 Landing Road in University Heights, will include shelter space in addition to affordable housing
NYC Department of Homeless Services spokesman Issac McGinn said communities will be the first to know as new locations are identified for use as shelter.
“No final determinations have been made regarding use of this location,” McGinn said. “We will promptly notify the community board, elected officials, and community residents if this changes.”