Larger Capri hotel signs removed at Crystal’s Place shelter

Remaining hotel signage on the closed Capri Whitestone Hotel, which has been retrofitted into a 91-family homeless shelter, have been removed.
Community News Group / Photo by Patrick Rocchio

The signs on a closed hot-sheet motel are down, but the future of the property, currently being used as a homeless shelter, remains an unanswered question.

The remaining signage on the building that was once the Capri Whitestone Hotel, have finally come down.

Local leaders hailed the signs’ removal as the end of a nuisance for the community and shelter residents, numbering about 91 families.

“While the introduction of the Crystal Family Residence in Ferry Point was haphazard at best, the removal of the former Capri Whitestone Motel sign marks an important step forward for both the families who reside there and the community at large,” said Senator Jeff Klein.

Yet the signs’ removal are also adding a sense of permanence to the shelter, as elected officials and Community Board 10 continue to push for an alternate site.

As of press time, the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services has not yet made a determination on the extension of a temporary, emergency Department of Homeless Services contract for the facility to operate permanently, a spokeswoman for Klein confirmed.

According to Klein’s office, Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office informed CB 10 that the signage would be removed on Tuesday, March 31.

CB 10 had been advocating for the removal because of the unsavory activity the community was exposed to because of the short-stay motel operations.

Michael Rivadeneyra, chief of staff for Councilman James Vacca, said that his office still has not heard anything definitive on the pending contract extension, adding that the city bureaucracy often takes some time on these decisions.

Speaking on behalf of Vacca, Rivadeneyra said that the councilman still opposes the siting of the shelter.

“It is not a great location for the shelter because it is further isolating the families,” he said, alluding to the shelter’s relatively remote location next to Ferry Point Park’s west side.

He added: “We also understand that when the golf course opens, there was supposed to be an economic plan for the area, and this is not meshing with that economic plan.”

Along with Klein and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, CB 10 voiced opposition at a MOCS hearing on Thursday, March 19 on granting the shelter’s operator, Acacia Housing Network, a permanent contract for the facility.

The board’s testimony, provided by its chairman Martin Prince, detailed the board’s opposition to a permanent contract for Crystal’s Place, another name for the shelter at 555 Hutchinson River Parkway.

The board cited “the manner in which (the Department of Homeless Services) operates, its lack of notification, its complete disregard for the host community’s concerns, inconsistencies of service between shelter to shelter, the opaque nature of contracts and its high costs.”

One of the issues that Prince and the board raised was the annual cost that was awarded on an emergency contract where there was not a competitive bidding process.

“This is a no-bid $17,801,135 contract that spends $125.79 on each client per day,” CB 10 stated its testimony.

CB 10 added: “To let a contract of this size without public review violates not only the city’s own contract rules, but defies common sense.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
The sign is now down on the former motel.
Community News Group / Photo by Patrick Rocchio

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