Today the city of Hollywood started tearing down a homeless shelter that has long been thought of as an “eyesore.”
The COSAC Quarters Hotel for the Poor has been a controversial feature on the city’s section of Federal Highway since Homeless Voice founder Sean Cononie bought the former inn in 2002.
Opponents contend the shelter was antithetical to the city's efforts to clean up that part of Hollywood, near 1203 N. Federal Highway.
Cononie's building was home to hundreds of homeless people over the dozen years it was in operation, but the city had been trying to close the shelter from the start.
Hollywood initiated lawsuits, complaints, and late last year, an offer of $4.8 million for the shelter and several other properties Cononie owned -- an offer he accepted. Cononie moved out in March.
“I’m sad still, you know, I’ve lived here all my life and I have a lot of fond memories,” he says. “I’ll be back, not as a homeless provider, but I’ll be back.”
At the start of the demolition Tuesday, Cononie grabbed two small pieces of concrete from the building before a large digger started pulling bricks, green mattresses and pieces of bed frames from the building. He says he’ll put one on his desk at his new place in Central Florida.
Since he left in March, Sean Cononie has opened what he calls the country's first “homeless resort” near Haines City, outside of Orlando.
Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober was also at the ceremony to begin demolition, but instead of reminiscing, he pointed to the future of this stretch of Hollywood.
“We are going to be making way for something new in the community,” said Bober, “and it’s really one component of our idea to really try and modernize this corridor.”
The city is working on plans to develop the area but hopes to incorporate both residential and retail buildings.