The City Council has earmarked two vacant Hell’s Kitchen hotels to become Response and Relief Centers for migrants — as local schools report difficulties in dealing with the influx of families.

The Watson Hotel
The Watson Hotel could be used for migrants as a Response and Relief Center. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The City Council released a list of 10 vacant hotels that could come into play as Response and Relief Centers for asylum seekers. The list includes the 597 room Watson Hotel on W57th Street and 165 room Cassa Hotel on 9th Avenue — along with the Hilton Hotel Times Square, which is just east of 8th Avenue and has 478 rooms.

The current plan is to find space for up to 500 migrants for intake and relief. The Council Speaker Adrienne Adams says that the hotels are not meant to be temporary shelters. The list of hotels totals nearly 4,000 rooms, but under present plans, not all would be needed.

Currently, many migrant families are being housed at the Skyline Hotel on 10th Avenue. This has put increased pressure on both the city’s homeless services and local schools. The New York Post reported this week that the city’s schools were “struggling to cope with the influx of 5,500 migrant kids.” W42ST spoke last week to a mom at the Skyline who was finding significant challenges to move out of the shelter to permanent housing.

Last week, Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency over the migrant crisis and said that 5,500 migrant kids had already been enrolled in the city’s schools. Earlier this month, the New York Post reported that the influx of migrant children had swelled some classes at PS 111 to 38 students, leading to the transfer of 15 students to PS 51.

Several local hotels, including 10th Avenue’s Skyline Hotel and the Travel Inn on W42nd Street, have been repurposed as temporary shelters for asylum-seeking refugees and unhoused New Yorkers, while other vacant accommodations like the Paramount Hotel — at one point in talks with Breaking Ground to become permanent supportive housing — reopened to tourists at the end of summer.  When the Watson Hotel sold in April 2021, it was expected to return as a working hotel — but has since remained dormant.

Council member Erik Bottcher told W42ST: “I look forward to learning more about this plan that Speaker Adams and the City Council leadership has put forth, including how these locations were selected, what conversations took place with the local communities, and what next steps are being discussed. As of right now, I haven’t received any more information than what has been made public.”

Christine Quinn, who used to represent the HK area as a council member and is now CEO of WIN (the largest provider of shelter and supportive housing for homeless families in NYC), said on The Brian Lehrer Show this week that she supported using vacant hotels to improve the pipeline of shelter for migrants and homeless. “One way to do that is to take hotels that are empty, or not totally full, and make them shelters. For families, you’re supposed to have a kitchen in every unit, but we could temporarily put that on hold. Let’s take these hotels, work with the owners, but put a full complement of social services in there just as you would in a full-service shelter. One that gets us more rooms, their indoors meets the social services needs,” she said. Quinn also stressed that dropping the rule on people having to be homeless for 90 days before seeking permanent housing should be dropped to release more shelter space for migrants.

We have requested comment from Manhattan Community Board 4 and will update this report.

The Rooftop at the Cassa Hotel
The rooftop at the Cassa Hotel on 9th Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The City Council has proposed this list of hotels to help alleviate the migrant crisis (first reported by Crain’s).

Doubletree by Hilton Metropolitan at 569 Lexington Ave: 764 rooms

Maxwell New York City at 12 E53rd St: 697 rooms

NYC ESH Lexington at 525 Lexington Ave: 646 rooms

Watson Hotel at 440 W57th St: 597 rooms

Hilton Hotel Times Square at 234 W42nd St: 478 rooms

Hotel Wolcott at 4 W31st St: 178 rooms

Cassa Hotel New York at 515 9th Ave: 165 rooms

Hotel Plaza Athenee at 37 E64th St: 143 rooms

Gregory Hotel New York at 42 W35th St: 132 rooms

Hotel Stanford at 42 W32nd St: 122 rooms

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  1. Gobble-de-Gook: Anyone interested in how this reads to a senior resident of HK? Sounds like Erik Bottcher (the local voice of the city council) has been left out of the loop and that Ms. Quinn favors some kind of short cuts. Bottcher is right to call for clarifications. We could all use some.

  2. Sensing the same tactics used to avoid sending homeless and migrants to other neighborhoods. Why HK’s concentration of shelters is far higher than any other district. That is, shame HK hotels & residents into complacency or just quickly circumvent community groups and schools. We must “do more” while other parts of the city avoid the spotlight.

    1. HK because there are so many hotels that can be used.

      But longer term, the neighborhood gets destroyed and community concerns ignored as big real estate, the restaurant lobby etc continue to turn HK into a tourist and affluent-transient area…

      On a related note, incredible to see the proliferation of food places – there is a limit to the number any area can support and they will just cannibalize each other.

  3. HK crime will rise tremendously because mostly migrant men are being housed in these hotels. They are jobless & penniless are will rob anyone to get $$.

    Christine Quinn is a sellout to her constituents. Joe Biden is a sellout to his entire country to allow this invasion to happen to our country.

    Time to move out of New York!

  4. You bleeding hearts should take some into your home. See how long that lasts before your patience runs out. Interesting how you claim the US is not the world’s policeman and responsible to help people overseas. And yet, it is somehow our responsibility to have every single person from third world countries come here illegally and leech off tax payers?

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