I've read allot about this issue in the blogs and such and I feel its important to "weigh in' on this issue.
The time has come for the Metropole to change. A Boutique Hotel not only makes sense in this location but is a logical development.
And we should be realistic about what that means. The people staying there are given two years to relocate. When was the last time anyone was given two years to relocate. I understand that many are concerned that these people are one step from homelessness, so is the middle class two- income family that loses one income and is facing foreclosure. They certainly do not get two years to move out.
There is plenty of time for social service agencies, charities and church groups to come together and develop a strategy. To assess the needs of these people and more importantly assist them with relocation. I put to those that argue that these people MUST STAY, that in reality, this structure "ghettoizes" the poor and is no different in its present form than a housing project or slum housing. The building has a long history of criminal activity and to those that argue we MUST keep this ask yourself is this kind of housing "fair' to those people who are struggling, and not involved in drugs or criminal activity? To live in a building with on going prostitution and drugs? It is fair for us to argue that they should stay in those conditions? Would any of those arguing so eloquently for keeping this the way it is, actually want to live there?
Urban planning teaches us that the concentration or ghettoizing of the poor in projects and buildings like this doom them to struggle, exposes them to criminality, and does not help them achieve. We need to step back, not have a "knee jerk political correctness" moment and ask ourselves is the Metropole what these tenants need, or, is it a convenient place for society to house them in one big building where we don't have to look at them or deal with them. With this change in use now we do have to deal with them.
I understand the economics of this building and it has to be losing proposition in its present use. Just heating is astronomical, never mind maintenance and security issues. The era of this kind of housing is frankly over and rather than waste energy arguing why it should be kept we need to be looking at solutions for the decent people who struggle living there.