Thursday night in Harlem, folks were all riled up about a homeless shelter setting up shop in their hood. Some locals are feeling totally bamboozled. Like they’ve been hit with a migrant bait-and-switch.

The building development on, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd was initially advertised as a luxurious condo complex. There’s now been a plot twist. Courtesy of taxpayer funds, it will now be used as a homeless shelter, potentially accommodating migrants.

Upscale Living To Shelter Shuffle

The 35-unit complex is located at 2201 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, close to 130th Street. It was first marketed as a luxurious living space and residents were promised top-notch comfort. An indoor swimming pool, apartments boasting marble bathrooms, name it, all at market rates.

Source: Robert Miller

The plot twist came after the developer had money problems and lost the site. Now, it’s now being rented out to a non-profit organization. They’re teaming up with the city to turn it into a shelter, maybe for migrants or the Big Apple’s native homeless population.

Community Uproar: Harlem Residents Speak Out

City officials told Community Board 10 they’re planning to set up a shelter there. Residents noticed this when workers started bringing in bed frames and mattresses. “We were trying to find out what was going on, and we weren’t getting any answers to our questions,” Harlem resident Regina Smith said.

Source: Twitter/Ali Bauman

Smith expressed her concern, stating, “We’ve got too many homeless shelters in our community.” She added that she would prefer to see the building transformed into affordable housing. Smith highlighted that 44% of households in the neighborhood struggle with rent burdens, meaning they spend over a third of their income on rent.

The Mayor Steps In, Addressing Concerns Head-On

As neighbors gathered to voice their concerns, the mayor made a surprise appearance to address questions. “You are the mayor. We do not want to hear excuses,” one Harlem resident said.

Source: Flickr/nycmayorsoffice

But the mayor announced a change of course. “I told the team, ‘Find out what’s going on here. We’re not moving folks into a brand new building when you have long-term needs in a community. That’s not gonna happen,'” Mayor Adams said.

Debating The Future: Affordable Housing Vs. Shelter Space

A spokesperson from the Department of Social Services said they’re figuring out if the shelter will be for long-term New Yorkers or new arrivals. However, this depends on who needs it most.

Source: Flickr/Russ Allison Loar

As expected, there’s been widespread outrage because of this. “There was no discussion, no conversation about this plan with the community. This building has been empty for so long,” CB 10 chairman Marquis Harrison said.

Harlem’s Housing Hassle: Locals Demand Affordable Solutions

People in Harlem are upset because they feel like working-class folks are being pushed out of the neighborhood. This is because there’s not enough affordable housing and prices are going up.

Source: Robert Miller

They’re wondering why nobody is thinking about turning the empty luxury apartment complex into cheaper apartments. “There’s a need for housing for community members as well,” Marquis Harrison also said.

Community Forum Alert: Building’s Future Up for Debate

A community forum about the building’s use will take place on Thursday night. The forum will be organized by the St. Nicholas House Resident Association together with the youth advocacy group Silent Voices United.

Source: Flickr/Mabuhay Alliance

“Why are the residents with Section 8 vouchers struggling to find affordable housing while new accommodations are readily available for others,” the flier from the groups said.

Local Voices Vs. Migrant Needs

According to a flier promoting the event, there are concerns about using limited housing resources in Harlem for a “sanctuary” shelter for migrants instead of creating apartments. The flier also criticized the lack of transparency surrounding the project.

Source: Flickr/Jeanne Menjoulet

Tiffany Fulton, the executive director of Silent Voices United Inc., expressed her disagreement, stating that she didn’t agree with the idea of the building becoming a sanctuary for asylum seekers, especially considering the local people who need the space.

Crime Concerns And Call For Action

Residents also complained of criminal activity taking place around the building. “We demand transparency, Mr. MAYOR [Eric Adams]. The high-crime, drug prevention surrounding 2201 demands your attention. Before introducing new complexities like an asylum seekers shelter, we urge a comprehensive plan to improve existing conditions.” the flier said.

Source: Flickr/Phil S. Teen

New York City and other big cities are dealing with lots of migrants coming in because of the situation at the southern border with Mexico. In the past year and a half, over 170,000 migrants have come to the Big Apple.

Citywide Crisis: Managing Migration And Shelter Needs

About 66,000 are still staying in shelters run by the city. It’s expected to cost $10.6 billion by the 2025 fiscal year because of this crisis. To help them, the city has set up more than 210 emergency shelter sites. And this whole border situation has been going on for three years now.

Source: Wikimedia/Alisdare Hickson

In the past few decades, Harlem’s population has changed a lot. New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy found that from 2000 to 2021, the African-American population in Harlem went down from about 77% to 42%. At the same time, the white population went up from 2% to 17.5%. Also, the Hispanic population increased by two-thirds and now makes up 27% of Harlem’s residents.

From Luxury Dreams To Abandoned Reality: The WA Condominiums Rollercoaster

It’s quite the turn of events for the Harlem property, once marketed as WA Condominiums. “WA Condominiums is one of the newest condominiums in the storied neighborhood of Central Harlem. This modern luxury building is surrounded by the jazz clubs, theaters, and ethnic cuisine the area is known for,” a still active website says.

Source: Wikimedia /Derek

“All rooms include granite countertops, marble bathrooms…… For the physically active, WA features an indoor pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a rooftop running track.”

From Condos To Courts: The WA Condominiums Legal Battle

But it wasn’t to be. In 2010, a bank, Branco Popular sued to take over the WA Condominiums because the developers didn’t pay back $13.2 million in loans. The project was then left unfinished and abandoned.

Source: Wikimedia/Diliff

A report by The Real Deal revealed that the developers, brothers Trevor Whittingham and David Atkinson, borrowed $11.1 million in 2006 to build the 35-unit boutique condo. The developers secured a $2 million project loan and a $2.6 million acquisition loan from MTM Realty. Later on, the acquisition loan was transferred to Puerto Rico-based Banco Popular.