Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11) today issued the following statement regarding developer Joseph Paolino’s plans to convert the former St. Joseph’s Hospital into a housing complex for the homeless:
“Although I want the St. Joseph’s campus to become more fully utilized, I am not in agreement with or in support of the proposal that has been presented today because it lacks input from the residents of this community.
Large-scale redevelopment demands a process that is inclusive of the community in which it will have the biggest impact. A project of this scale should happen with the host community rather than to the host community.
The Southside and Elmwood neighborhoods have shouldered more than their fair share of support to vulnerable populations. We aren’t being asked to take on more of it; we’re being told that we don’t have a choice.
Years ago, Travelers’ Aid, which is now known as Crossroads, was located downtown before it was relocated to the southern side of the highway. If it’s a hindrance to downtown development, it gets moved south.
Today, I stand in solidarity with my neighbors and constituents in opposition to the plan laid out by Mr. Paolino, who has stated that he wants to ‘target the people I see downtown sleeping in vestibules.’ This does not reflect a democratic process, and I cannot support this proposal until it is inclusive of the community that lives here, raises their children here, and pays taxes here. We are not going to accept any plan or process that is forced upon us by a developer.
A few weeks ago, a community meeting was held to discuss the proposed construction of Hotel Express, which will be located on Pine Street, adjacent to Crossroads. The hotel’s New York investors expressed to me that they have no need to meet with the community because they are not receiving any tax breaks. I wonder, is this type of treatment consistent across all of the City’s wards?
I will work with my colleagues within city government and community members to create a process that involves real community input. Then, and only then, will I be in support of a new use for St. Joseph’s Hospital.”