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East Midtown’s Roosevelt Hotel could be migrant-free by end of 2024: sources

It’s been a year since the once proud Roosevelt Hotel was transformed into what was once called an “immigrant theme park.”

Dr. Ted Long, executive director of the New York City Department of Health and Hospitals, cheerfully backed away from his long-held assertion to Spectrum News NY1 last week that the hotel is a “new Ellis Island” where migrants can get hot meals, have their asylum paperwork processed, receive medical care and health screenings.

That’s the advertising pitch. The reality is that it’s a seedy, often creepy show in the heart of East Midtown’s commercial district, where the non-comatose residents usually occupy East 45th and 46th Streets between Madison and Vanderbilt Avenues and seem uninterested in the hotel’s warm and welcoming amenities.

JLL was retained by the Roosevelt’s owners to evaluate the property’s potential for a large-scale mixed-use development. Helaine Seidman

Many of the storefronts in the building are empty rather than full, leaving retailers to deal with rampant shoplifting, customer harassment and urination on their doorsteps.

But there may be hope: As we reported in February, JLL has been hired by the Roosevelt’s owner, the Pakistani government, to evaluate the property for its potential as a large-scale mixed-use development.

The city paid $220 million to lease the hotel to Pakistan for three years as a migrant center, but it may not have to wait until 2026.

One local store manager claimed the migrants “will be gone” by the end of the year. Steve Cuozzo
Many of the stores in the building are more vacant than full. Steve Cuozzo

Sources say the agreement also includes the option to leave the city at certain points during the period, and one local shopkeeper who speaks regularly to hoteliers even claims the migrants will be “gone” by the end of the year.

The sooner the better.

City officials did not respond to multiple emails seeking comment.