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World’s Tallest Holiday Inn Approved To Serve As Migrant Shelter

The FiDi Holiday Inn, now due to become the latest migrant shelter in NYC, in June 2022.

A 50-story Holiday Inn in New York City’s Financial District will soon see its rooms occupied by migrants as Mayor Eric Adams warns that the city is “at its breaking point” trying to provide shelter for the volume of people coming to the city.

The 492-room hotel, the tallest Holiday Inn in the world, has received approval to become a migrant shelter, Crain’s New York Business reports. The hotel has been facing foreclosure after it stopped paying off three of its loans in August 2020 and became one of the city’s most distressed hotels by November that year. The hotel’s owner, developer Jubao Xie, tried to sell the property for $187M in January 2022 but did not find a buyer.

The deal with NYC Health + Hospitals, for which Xie won approval from a bankruptcy judge, would net the owner roughly $93K per day or $2.8M per month from the city if the rooms in the now-vacant building are fully occupied. The deal, which runs through April 2024 at $190 per room per day, could boost the hotel’s bottom line by approximately $10M, Crain's reported.

Xie developed the FiDi Holiday Inn in partnership with hotelier Sam Chang in 2014 before buying out Chang’s stake in 2017. Xie then put the property up for sale, asking more than $300M, but refinanced instead. The hotel had an occupancy rate of more than 90% at the time of the refinancing, per Crain’s.

The city’s public hospital system needed 300 rooms before Jan. 25, and an additional 192 rooms the next week, H+H said in the agreement. City officials have targeted hotels experiencing high levels of distress or vacancy to provide emergency housing, enlisting hotels including The Row in Times Square in their efforts. 

The city has been looking for ways to house migrants who have been bused from the country's southern border by state governments in Florida and Texas. The lion’s share of migrants have been transported to NYC, The New York Times reported this week, with as many as 3,000 new arrivals in one week, while Chicago has received 5,000 since August.

The city’s response has also drawn criticism, with migrants protesting this week after the city tried to eject them from one Midtown hotel and shuttle them to a Red Hook residence — more than an hour away from where migrants had been living and working, The City reported.

It will cost NYC at least $600M to house the current volume of migrants arriving to the city for a year, the Independent Budget Office said in November. Adams has repeatedly called on the federal government for help housing the city’s newest residents.

“Every attempt to deal with immigration on a national level through legislation has been sabotaged, mostly by right-wing opposition. And cities are bearing the brunt of this failure,” Adams said at a press conference after visiting El Paso’s border.