Mayor Jim Gray announced Friday that the city would not back a controversial proposal to put homeless services and a shelter at the former Lorillard Lofts.
Social service groups had proposed using the condo development off Leestown and Price roads as a Wayfinder Center that would include a homeless shelter, a host of services, a possible clinic and respite care for people who are discharged from the hospital but have no place to go.
Ginny Ramsey, co-founder of the Catholic Action Agency and the Community Inn, has helped spearhead the project.
"My staff met with Ms. Ramsey again today to let her know that, after serious consideration, we can't support the Lorillard project," Gray said. "The project doesn't have the ingredients to make it successful, and there's no feasible plan for the city to consider ... the property does not have appropriate zoning; neighbors have serious concerns, and questions that have not been addressed."
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Several neighborhood groups near the Lorillard Lofts have opposed the project in recent weeks, saying they didn't want the shelter and its residents near their neighborhoods.
"It's an aggressive and expensive concept with unidentified ongoing expenses; and there are no signed commitments for major funding or program support from community partners, which are essential to making it a reality," Gray said.
Ramsey said Friday she is isn't sure of the project's fate now that the city has officially said it won't support it. The group would need more than $6 million to buy and remodel the building. Other government hurdles, including a zoning change, would also have to be cleared.