It was recently revealed that disgraced hotel owner Hank Freid was forced to relinquish his third and last Upper West Side property, 258 West 97th Street, which he illegally operated as the Royal Park International Hotel for years. His other former buildings were The Broadway Hotel and Marrakech Hotel, both of which have been acquired by real estate developers.
Freid’s final forfeit was the product of a $1.1 settlement with the city, which the mayor announced will transform the property into “82 affordable homes for low-income and formerly homeless New Yorkers.”
Following the city’s initial announcement, 258 West 97th Street’s new owner, The Fortune Society, provided a bit more detail about its plans.
JoAnne Page, President and CEO of The Fortune Society, noted in a statement that “Twenty-four (24) of the building’s units, including 15 that are currently occupied, will be preserved as affordable housing for members of the surrounding community. Permanent tenants of the other  units will be drawn from people in the New York City shelter system with criminal justice histories, who, before acceptance, will undergo Fortune’s rigorous tenant screening process to ensure a safe building and community.”
When we followed up for more information about the screening process, a representative from The Fortune Society told us that “Every applicant for our supportive units goes through a detailed needs assessment, including a review of the applicant’s strengths, challenges and whether they pose a current risk of violence.”
We were also informed that individuals in the following categories will be excluded from living at 258 West 97th Street:
- Those convicted of arson.
- Sex offenders who are convicted of offenses requiring lifetime registry.
- Those convicted of methamphetamine production on any rental housing premise.
- Those assessed as posing a risk of current violence.
- Those assessed as inappropriate for the housing model and level of services provided.
The Fortune Society operates two uptown buildings with the same model: The Castle (an emergency and transitional supportive housing program for homeless people with incarceration history) and Castle Gardens (a 114-unit affordable, permanent and supportive apartment building for homeless justice-involved people, as well as low income community residents.)
The Upper West Side building, which will be known as Castle IV, “will offer in-depth onsite social services, as well as 24-hour security, including indoor and outdoor cameras and around-the-clock staff presence.”
Interior construction is expected to last at least one year, and “units for all new tenants are anticipated to be available in the first quarter of 2024.”
A statement from the organization further notes, “Fortune is committed to complete transparency and will engage in open dialogue with all members of the Upper West Side community as planning for this residence moves forward. As we have done with all of our housing initiatives, Fortune will actively seek input from our neighbors on how to make this residence the best neighbor it can be. Using our previous successful experiences establishing Fortune’s Castle Residence and Castle Gardens, we will do all that is necessary to ensure the Castle IV Residence, our staff and our tenants are assets to the community.”