A former hot sheet motel is trying to sever ties to the building’s tainted past by removing its former name from the building and the property, but at least one sign still remains.
The former Capri Whitestone Hotel, now a homeless shelter called the Crystal Family Residence, still had signs on the Ferry Point building advertising itself as a motel, until the involvement of Senator Jeff Klein and Community Board 10.
Now all but one large sign near the roof of the 90-plus unit shelter has been removed or obscured.
The sign removal or covering, which sources said occurred around the Christmas holiday, came after both Klein and CB 10 wrote letters to the Department of Homeless Services to ask that signs advertising a bar known as the 555 Lounge and the hotel be removed.
“It has come to my attention that after five months operating as a shelter for families, mostly women and children, the old sign is still up,” stated Senator Klein in a letter to the DHS commissioner dated Monday, December 22.
“This has caused people unaffiliated with the shelter to continue to visit the site presuming it is still a short-stay motel of dubious history, which in turn has created a safety hazard for residents and continued nuisance for the surrounding community,” he concluded
CB 10 chairman Martin Prince wrote DHS on Thursday, December 18 that the board respectfully disagreed with an earlier DHS assessment that the issue needed to be worked out between the landlord, Capri Whitestone LLC, and the service provider for the shelter, Acacia Network. Both Acacia and Capri Whitestone LLC also received letters from CB 10 on the matter.
“The Crystal Family Residence staff routinely turns away would be patrons, who believe that the building is still a hotel,” stated Prince, who added “furthermore, the signs’ presence demeans the lives of these current residents, because the general public associates them with the hotel’s sordid past.”
Upon seeing the removal or covering of some of the Capri signs, local activist Dotti Poggi, of Ferry Point Community Advocates, said she believes that the signs called attention to a hotel no longer in operation and misrepresents the building’s current use.
“The signs are an issue for various reasons, and they should not have had the signs up when [the homeless] moved in,” said Poggi.
For Klein, removing all the signs remains important.
“The sign at the old Capri Whitestone Motel is both an eyesore and a blight on the local community,” said Klein.“The lack of action this project has seen over the past three months is troubling to say the least. In an effort to expedite the process, I recently wrote a letter to the Department of Homeless Services urging them to make the removal of this sign a priority. For the health and safety of the residents at the shelter and the surrounding community, it’s paramount we see that this sign is removed, and accordingly, the reputational stain of this location along with it.”