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CB 3 strikes down Corona shelter plan

A rent-stabilized building in Corona that saw its tenants ousted in October and almost became a homeless shelter may now become an assisted living home. The proposal will go to the state for approval in September without comment from Community Board 3, which opposed the project but lacked the quorum necessary for a formal decision at a public hearing last Thursday.

The board voted 19-1 to recommend against the proposal in what became a nonbinding resolution. Its next meeting occurs after the deadline for input on the home.

The 51-unit project at 38-01 112th St. would house formerly homeless people with mental problems. It would offer apartments to people until they are ready to live on their own, generally two to five years, according to Urban Pathways, the company that made the proposal.

The building would be monitored 24 hours a day by security staff and residents would have dedicated caseworkers, Urban Pathways Executive Director Stephen Grimaldi said. Preference would be given to people who lived or became homeless within the community, he said.

The project is planned for the same location as a proposed homeless shelter that raised the community's ire in October, after the property's previous landlord forced nearly all the rent-stabilized tenants out of the building to make way.

That plan was abandoned after Borough President Helen Marshall contacted Carl Ichan, the billionaire investor behind the nonprofit Children's Rescue Fund, slated to operate the shelter, and pursuaded him to sever ties with the landlord.

Grimaldi said the previous landlord had sold the building.

"We want nothing of that landlord either," he said. "If it turns out it's the same landlord, we will walk away from this project."

The confusion stemmed from the fact that new shareholders have bought out the previous owners of CI Buildings, the company that owns the building.

Alan Ginsberg, the shareholders' representative, said the company's name cannot be changed until a mortgage is paid off.

City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst) praised Urban Pathways' facilities, noting he toured one of its Manhattan buildings the previous day.

"It's run very nicely," Monserrate said. "I was very impressed." But he said he recently learned of plans for another organization to build a transitional living home at 111th Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

"I don't want the district I represent to become oversaturated," he said.

Marshall also warned against oversaturation in Corona, comparing its plight to downtown Jamaica, where three such facilities share a single block.

"I saw the Ivan Shapiro House," Marshall said of Urban Pathways' Manhattan facility. "It's beautiful. There's not enough space here to do that."

But some members thought the proposal was the best prospect for the now-empty building.

"We are safer with Urban Pathways coming in and fixing up this thing than we are having someone else come in," CB 3 member Norma Jimenez said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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