Homeless Shelter to Open in Greenwood Heights Factory


The homeless shelter is being developed by a controversial landlord whose operations have landed him on the “worst landlord” list.

An early 20th century factory building on 25th Street in Greenwood Heights will be converted from its industrial past into a homeless shelter, if plans filed with the city are approved.

Permit applications filed with the Department of Buildings on April 1 show the building owner intends to convert the factory to a 27-unit “transient lodging house with sleeping accommodations,” offices, and a cafeteria. With an address of 225 25th Street, the lot extends all the way through the block to 24th Street and contains two buildings. The complex takes up nearly the entire lot and totals 57,224 square feet over three stories.

While the permit for the conversion hasn’t been issued, a permit for interior structural work to remove walls, roll-up gates, doors, windows, and stairs, and add new masonry openings and lintels for new doors was issued on April 5, and a permit for the installation of sidewalk fences was issued on April 15. When Brownstoner stopped by the site Monday, scaffolding was in place along 25th Street and a construction fence was going up around the property on 24th Street. Workers on site appeared to be hauling debris out of the building.

a view along 25th street showing the former laundry building
The building viewed from 25th Street this week
A construction fence going up on the 24th street side of the property
The rear of the building and garage viewed from 24th Street this week

Controversial homeless shelter landlord David Levitan and his company Liberty One are behind the conversion, along with Joel Shafran, city records show. Shafran signed on behalf of 25th Street Owner LLC, which purchased the building in September last year for $16.35 million.

Levitan is also the owner of the recently opened 130 3rd Street shelter in Gowanus that has faced extensive local pushback, including a lawsuit filed by the local block association that alleges protocols to ensure building safety were not followed.

Jonathan Imani of IMC Architecture is the architect of record behind the conversion of the 25th Street building, which is expected to cost $1,716,720, according to the application for a permit for the change of occupancy.

a construction fence going up on the 24th Street side of the property
The rear of the building
A view from Green-Wood cemetery showing the weir greenhouse with the former laundry behind it
The chimney of the former laundry building viewed from Green-Wood Cemetery

The application to convert the building to a shelter says the facility will be operated by a philanthropic or nonprofit group, which will be sponsored by the city’s Department of Homeless Services. It’s unclear at this stage which group will operate the shelter, what the contract amounts will be, and whom the shelter will serve. Brownstoner reached out to DHS and Liberty One for comment, but didn’t hear back.

a black and white sketch showing the laundry and attached garage
An ad from 1923 shows the newly constructed building. Image via Brooklyn Daily Eagle
view along 25th street showing construction shed in front of former laundry
The building viewed from 25th Street this week

The three-story reinforced-concrete building, which has an attached two-story garage, started going up in 1922 as a plant for Holland Laundry. While the builder, Gretsch Construction Co., is mentioned frequently in old documentation, the architect is not. An ad in 1922 described the building under construction as “dedicated to sunshine for better laundry service” and extolled the fact the new building would have windows on all sides.

The plant was completed in 1923 and ads from that year and later show sketches of the completed building and garage. By at least 1981, a second story — possibly dating back to the late 1920s — was in place on the originally one-story garage. Pilgrim Laundry absorbed Holland Laundry in 1954 and by at least 1957 the building was being used by the Hudson Tea & Spice Co.

More recently, the building was owned by Royal Industries International, a vinyl manufacturing plant. According to the company’s website, “Royal Industries was founded over 50 years ago by Eli Rudensky. From its humble beginnings in an old Brooklyn warehouse making ‘Howdy Doody’ wallets, it has grown into a new, state-of-the-art 100,000-plus-square-foot high-tech vinyl manufacturing plant.” The company sold the factory to 255 25th Street Owner LLC, city records show.

[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]

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