Aug. 10, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
A four-star hotel in Long Island City will soon serve as a location to house economic migrants, sources tell the Queens/LIC Post.
The Collective Paper Factory, a hotel located at 37-06 36th St., is understood to have closed last week and work is underway to convert it into a Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center, a shelter for economic migrants, according to sources familiar with the plan.
When operating as a hotel, the premises boasted 125 guest rooms, communal spaces, a gym, several meeting rooms, and a bar/restaurant on the ground floor.
It is unclear how many people will be housed at the 5-story facility as the city continues to struggle to cope with an unprecedented surge of migrants. Nearly 100,000 migrants have come through the city’s intake system since the spring of 2022 and the revised cost to the taxpayer is now expected to hit $12 billion by the summer of 2025.
The mayor’s office did not respond to an email request from the Queens/LIC Post seeking to confirm news about the shelter opening at The Collective Paper Factory. However, a woman at the hotel said via phone on Thursday, Aug. 10, that the hotel will soon be housing the migrants, in addition to other sources.
A spokesperson for Councilwoman Julie Won, who represents District 26 — which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and parts of Astoria — did not say if her office had been informed of the plans. The spokesperson said that throughout the migrant crisis, the city has not notified elected officials before commercial hotel shelter sites opened in their respective districts.
District 26 already has more than 30 shelters currently accommodating migrants, Won’s spokesperson said. For instance, in February, the Wingate by Wyndham, a three-star hotel located at 38-70 12th St., was converted into a shelter for migrants.
Meanwhile, the city is constructing a tent city at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village that will house 1,000 single male migrants, while 2,000 migrants are set to be housed at a tent city at Randall’s Island.
Earlier Thursday, Won joined U.S. Rep. Nydia Velasquez and representatives from the New York Congressional Delegation to tour the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, which is being used to house hundreds of economic migrants.
News of the migrant shelter opening at the Collective Paper Factory hotel is not being well received by local stakeholders.
Michael Cohen, a local businessman and property owner said he is disappointed with the plans and said constituents were not consulted on the decision. Cohen owns a number of properties in the neighborhood, including an 85-unit rent-stabilized apartment building adjacent to the Collective Paper Factory that has a Mercedes Benz car dealership on its ground floor.
Cohen said that the community has worked hard for years to transform the area into a vibrant neighborhood that is now a very desirable place to live and work.
“This use of this building is taking the neighborhood in exactly the opposite direction, given all the time, energy, zoning changes, and financial investments put into it, including from the city,” Cohen said. “I’m appalled by this action from this city because it is contrary to everything that has happened to the area in the last 15 years.”
Cohen said that the opening of the shelter will not be good for the local economy.
“Many many millions of dollars have been committed to this area and I think any reasonable business person or real estate developer would have to reconsider their investments in the area.”
He called on the city to expedite work permits for the migrants so that they are not loitering around the neighborhood.
“Where I agree with the mayor is that the first step in a solution is allowing these people to work,” Cohen said. “To have them sit on the sidewalk all day is helping no one, it’s not helping the migrants and, it’s not helping the community.”
This story has been updated. A spokesperson for Council Member Julie Won initially told the Queens Post in error that elected officials were given no more than one or two days notice before commercial hotel shelter sites opened in their respective districts. Won’s office asked to correct their initial comment.