Asylum seeker relief center decamps from Randall’s Island


Mayor Eric Adams is shutting down the Randall’s Island tent shelter he built last month and opening 600 rooms at the Watson Hotel in midtown for immigrants arriving on buses from the southern border instead.

The site was never more than half full, according to reporters who visited during its short existence.

Though it was built as an emergency relief center to help shelter more than 20,000 asylum seekers arriving in New York this summer and fall, visitors inside encountered a melting pot, including new immigrants from Latin America and West Africa. They fanned out across about 500 green cots placed in rows under the tarpaulin roof.

To use the bathroom or shower, they had to make their way to mobile trailers parked outside.

The tent facility was never a popular idea among members of city council, who warned of plunging winter temperatures and said it was a flimsy option to protect against whipping wind and snow on remote Randall’s Island.

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said she was “pleased” the mayor was pivoting to a midtown hotel as city council members had previously urged.

“From the beginning of this humanitarian crisis facing our city, the council has advocated for Humanitarian Emergency Relief and Recovery Centers to be sited indoors and identified several large hotels that were not remotely located,” Speaker Adams said.

The mayor, for his part, noted that the tent facility was only meant to be a temporary solution for the influx of migrants in the city in recent months.

“While they continue to arrive, the speed at which the number of single adult males seeking asylum in New York City has slowed in recent weeks,” Mayor Adams said Thursday.

He hoped to divert them from the city’s shelter system, which has taken in thousands of new homeless families and single adults this fall, reaching a new shelter census record of close to 64,000.

Adams initially pitched the idea of a tent shelter on Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay, but relocated to Randall’s Island when the construction site was inundated by heavy rain, as often happens on the flood-prone beach promenade. Undeterred, Adams compared the relief center to Ellis Island and announced the new location in the first week of October when declared a state of emergency in New York City, making headlines.

The facility opened two weeks later on Oct. 19. It cost the city about $650,000 to build and was operated during its short tenure by the Office of Emergency Management and the city’s Health + Hospitals Corp.

“We continue to welcome asylum seekers arriving in New York City with compassion and care,” Adams said in his announcement of the closure last week. He said the new relief center at the Watson Hotel “will provide asylum seekers with a place to stay, access support, and get to their final destination.

“The city is currently caring for over 17,500 asylum seekers, a number that continues to grow steadily.

“We will continue to pivot and shift as necessary to deal with this humanitarian crisis, but it’s clear that we still need financial assistance from our state and federal partners.”

Property transfers

The following real estate transactions have been recorded in city property records since Oct. 1:

• 536 Kappock St. — BCT Holdings LLC to Point Kappock Holdings LLC for $3.3 million

• 5605 Independence Ave. — Barbara Blumenthal to Zev Rosen for $2.268 million

• 4619 Douglas Ave. — David L. King to Kevin Benmoussa for $1.7 million

• 5586 Broadway — 5586 Realty Corp. to WFS 5586 Corp. for $1.425 million

• 3024 Arlington Ave. — David J. Eiseman to Jack Hait for $1.2875 million

• 3 Hudson River Road — Estate Of Eillen Hughes to Kara Lynn Hammond for $1.225 million

• 3885 Orloff Ave. — Leon De Los Santos to Bronx Estates 3 LLC for $1.135 million

• 5060 Tibbett Ave. — John Reybold to Ramon E. Penzo for $999,100

• 640 W. 237th St. Unit 5B — Igor Aleiner to Ronald C. Barth for $999,000

• 3198 Cambridge Ave. — D&K Realty Dev. LLC to J&H Realty NY LLC for $980,000

• 2760 Claflin Ave. — Estate Of Jean Williams to Charlene Blake for $950,000

• 602 W. 231st St. — Leah Davidson to Lawrence W. Weissmann for $899,000

• 156 Summit Place — 341 Fenimore LLC to Jodi Ziesemer for $880,000

• 640 W. 237th St. Unit 9A — Riverdale Heights I LLC to Ying-Kuen Kenneth Cheung for $845,148

• 3133 Tibbett Ave. — Brian Kehoe to LFM Realty LLC for $820,000

• 4455 Douglas Ave. Unit 8H — Ilya Napakh to David Sachs for $735,000

• 2675 Marion Ave. — Herlin Blanco to Odisseas Konstantakopoulos for $720,000

• 120 Van Cortlandt Ave. W. – Estate Of Nilsa Nieves to Pury Shantelle Soliver for $715,000