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Mayor Eric Adams’ announcement last week to use the vacant, landmarked Candler Building at 209-213 W. 42nd St. for migrant housing made us expect that Times Square stakeholders would howl their heads off over the plan.
Asked to comment, Durst Organization chairman Douglas Durst, landlord of 151 W. 42nd St. (previously Four Times Square), told us:
“We appreciate everything Mayor Adams is trying to do to help asylum seekers find shelter and to manage the wider crisis. Ultimately, the federal government and Congress in particular must take responsibility to address the underlying problem.”
Times Square Alliance president Tom Harris sounded equally sanguine: “The Adams administration is using the building to solve an immediate crisis and house asylees. We have been discussing this with them and have more plans in place to work with them on all operational logistics so that this is a smooth transition.”
Harris’s comment included this nugget: “There are long term plans in place to convert the iconic Candler Building on 42nd Street in Times Square into a hotel, not surprising given how robust the recovery of the hotel industry in Times Square has been.”
But the “Deuce” between Seventh and Eighth avenues is slowly but steadily riding the downbound train.
Although a migrants’ center is not quite the same thing as a homeless shelter, it’s hard to imagine that such a mid-block shelter will help to arrest the slide.
The former B.B. King’s Blues club and several stores and restaurants, including the nation’s once-busiest McDonald’s at the Candler, stand empty.
Work to restore the long-dark Times Square Theater at 215 W. 42nd St. ground to a halt.
The block is a far cry from the dangerous, porn-ridden days of the 1970s and ‘80s.
But it’s fallen noticeably from its wholesome, circa-2000 peak.
So, with thousands of vacant properties available all over the city, why did City Hall decide to dump unemployed migrants at one of Times Square’s iconic locations?