Tag Archives: Michael Wilner

Buildings Department nixes Glendale homeless shelter floor plans

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

Those fighting against the proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale received a bit of good news last week, when the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) revoked the floor plans for the shelter after a full audit of the plans.

The notice to revoke — which according to the DOB is pending until the plan review is completed — stalls the progress of the property owner, Michael Wilner, in renovating the former factory, which the nonprofit group Samaritan Village plans to use as a homeless shelter. The full audit found that the plans are not up to full code compliance, according to a DOB representative.

“The project at this site remains under department review, and at this time there has not been a determination of the plan’s compliance with all applicable codes or the zoning resolution,” said a DOB spokesperson in an email.

According to Robert Holden — a member of the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition, a group consisting of residents, businesspeople and community leaders dedicated to opposing the shelter — the DOB originally disapproved the building plans for the site, then later gave the plans the green light.

Once hearing of the plans’ approval, the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition raised enough money to legally challenge the Buildings Department. As a result, the DOB found “a laundry list of problems,” Holden said.

“I don’t know why the Department of Buildings approved their application when there were so many flaws,” Holden added. “It was mind-boggling that they approved it.”

The coalition previously filed legal action against the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), which previously approved a contract to open and operate the Glendale shelter, over what the coalition considered to be a flawed environmental assessment of the location. The building is located in an industrially zoned area, was used for manufacturing for decades and is adjacent to a chemical storage facility.

Holden hopes the coalition can build off the momentum of this latest snag in the shelter plans.

“It is certainly another win for the neighborhood,” Holden said. “I think this demonstrates the resolve of the community that we came together. Most other communities wouldn’t do this. We raised enough money to fight, but the fight isn’t over yet.”


CB5 chair: Glendale homeless shelter could be environmental nightmare

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Community concern caused by a rumored homeless shelter in Glendale may have been premature.

The site in question, 78-16 Cooper Avenue, “does not meet Building Code requirements for residential occupancy and, due to the age and condition and previous occupancies, could be an environmental nightmare,” Community Board 5 said in a release.

Rumors began circulating last week that the owner of the property, Michael Wilner, was in talks with a nonprofit that could potentially use the site for a homeless shelter.

No application for a shelter has been submitted, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) said.

“The building, which currently has several active Department of Building violations, may contain lead paint, asbestos and various PCB contaminants. The cost and time to convert this structure to a residential facility would be extensive and possibly twice as much as new construction,” Vincent Arcuri, chair of CB5 said.

The vacant factory currently has nine open Department of Building violations.

Prior occupants included an aircraft parts manufacturer, knitting mills, machine shops and Eastern Cabinet Company, Arcuri said, while adding there are rumors the facility was also used as part of the Manhattan Project.

“The site is located adjacent to a known Brownfield site and, due to its low elevation and location, may contain underground pockets of PERC (dry cleaning fluid) from the many defunct knitting mills in the area,” Arcuri said.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley came out against the site being used for a homeless shelter, saying the nearly 3 acre space should serve the community.

Wilner would not return requests for comment.

If Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced an emergency condition, the site may be able to be used, however.

Nine new shelters have opened in the city recently, prompted by the homeless population’s record numbers. There are 43,774 people currently in homeless shelters, according to the DHS.


Possible Glendale homeless shelter met with opposition

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

A potential plan to house a homeless shelter in Glendale may be evicted before it even moves in.

Michael Wilner, the owner of the proposed site at 78-17 Cooper Avenue, has been in contact with a nonprofit agency, said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, with the idea of turning the former factory into a homeless shelter.

“The councilmember does not support any attempt to put a multiple dwelling shelter on Cooper Avenue and will do everything in her power to prevent it from opening,” said Lydon Sleeper, Crowley’s chief of staff. “Elizabeth has been pushing for that space to be a recreation and community center that serves the public and we will keep pursuing that with the city and the community.”

A Facebook page has also been created in opposition to the proposal.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has yet to receive an application for the site and Community Board 5 said they have not been contacted regarding the shelter.

Wilner refused to answer questions at the site or when reached by phone.

Any plans to transform the factory into a shelter are still in its infancy, said a source with knowledge of the situation. The long-vacant factory would need significant work before it would be ready for occupants.

The factory, zoned M1-1 for manufacturing, sits on a nearly three acre plot of land south of Cooper Avenue. The zoning also allows for hotels, an exemption the city has used before for homeless shelters, Crowley said.

Nine new shelters have opened in the city recently, prompted by the homeless population’s record numbers. There are 43,774 people currently in homeless shelters, according to the DHS.

The city has maintained an open-ended Request for Proposal (RFP) since 2006 to meet capacity needs, a DHS spokesperson said. The proposals move forward based on the number of individuals seeking temporary shelter.

According to Department of Finance records, the estimated market value of the land is $1,160,000.

Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, said she is still waiting on concrete information on the plans, which she believes may be further along than anyone is letting on.

“We really have no idea what’s in store for us,” Masi said. “Our direction right now is to find out exactly what’s going on.”

Masi said the best use for the land would be a park, noting its proximity to schools and the Atlas Park shopping complex.