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 engagement and input. Then, and only
then, will I be in support of a new use for St. Joseph’s Hospital.»