Rumors that were swirling around Pelham Bay that a group known for servicing people with HIV has leased the vacant Pelham Grand building now appear to be true.
It is a revelation that appears to have surprised both the community and elected officials about the eventual use of the long-vacant former Our Lady Of Mercy Hospital – Durso Pavilion.
Allied Service Center NYC confirmed Tuesday, July 22 that it has leased the building to provide supportive housing for low-income individuals, and that about a dozen rooms were occupied in mid-July.
ASCNYC was one of four social service agencies that made presentations to the Community Board 10 Municipal Services Committee on May 13. At the time, the group’s representatives said that it did not plan to use City money.
“Our supportive housing program is saving New York City taxpayer dollars by leveraging federal resources,” stated Sharen Duke, executive director and CEO of ASCNYC. “The program will create jobs by tapping local businesses. And, most importantly, we’re giving vulnerable New Yorkers a second chance to reclaim their health and their lives.”
Joe Oddo, treasurer of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association, said that he was notified recently by the landlord, Moujan Vadhat, that the building had been leased to a social service provider. He said he was not told which one, but that based on what Vadhat said about the lessee, he believed that of the four that made the presentation to CB 10, it had to be ASCNYC.
He added that he had contacted ASCNYC, and asked them to meet with the community, at which point, they scheduled a meeting with just him.
As of press time, he wasn’t optimistic about the community’s response.
“My gut feeling is if they go into the building and it is not a spectacularly run operation, it is going to be a negative for the neighborhood,” he said. “Even if it is a spectacularly well-run, some people are just not going to want to be near it.”
When it seemed probable that ASCNYC had leased the building, newly elected CB 10 chairman Martin Prince said that the board would work with both the social service provider and the community, and ease any reservations the community had about the situation.
“Whoever comes into the community needs to work with the community using their resources to be good neighbors,” he said.
Several different plans had been floated for the vacant building as it appeared the landlord was getting ready to lease, including senior housing and housing for veterans.
“It is unfortunate that the landlord and this organization moved ahead with this project without notifying local elected officials and community leaders,” said Senator Jeff Klein. “However I am still confident that the potential for 1870 Pelham Parkway South to stand as a senior housing development still exists if we work together moving forward. I will continue to fight for an alternate plan that incorporates the concerns and wishes of the community,”
Councilman Jimmy Vacca said: “For years, we sought to have senior housing or assisted living housing for the elderly here. Even an elementary school was proposed for this site. If the rumors I hear are true, then the promises we heard for years will have been broken, and a need our community has will not have been met. We need to know why this building cannot be used for senior housing, as was intended since it closed as a hospital.”