View of the vacant hospital complex, via Google Street View
It’s been 35 years since the Greenpoint Hospital shut its doors, since which time the city has tried and failed to convert the vacant 146,100-square-foot complex into affordable housing. But Mayor de Blasio, explaining that the “the need for affordable housing in Greenpoint and Williamsburg is too high to leave even one stone unturned,” will now seek proposals from developers to transform the site into anywhere between 300 to 600 below-market rate apartments and supportive housing, along with green space, commercial space, and a relocated 200-bed shelter and clinic (h/t DNAinfo).
The 3.4-acre city-owned site contains three structures built between 1915 and 1930. One is currently used as the aforementioned shelter; the other houses laundry facilities for city-wide shelters (it will be relocated); and the third is the former nurse’s quarters that’s fallen into disrepair and was recently inhabited by squatters. All the buildings are eligible for the State and National Register of Historic Places, hence the city’s preference for developers with historic preservation backgrounds.
As the Daily News notes, the hope to adaptively reuse the entire site dates back to 1975, when Mayor Ed Koch selected Neighborhood Women and nonprofit developer St. Nick’s Alliance to develop it into a nursing home and senior housing. But City Hall backed out of the deal. The groups sued the city and won, eventually turning four of the complex’s outbuildings into affordable housing and a community center. For years after, local residents pushed for St. Nick’s to develop the remainder of the site, however in 2012, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development tapped for-profit developer Great American Construction for the project. Shortly thereafter, a company executive, William Clarke, was indicted for bribing city officials, halting the plans once again.
As part of his push to add or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade, Mayor de Blasio revisited the Greenpoint Hospital project in 2015, hosting a series of community visioning sessions. And in December 2016, the city said it would release an RFP for the project the following month. Nearly a year later, it looks like they’ll finally be sticking to their word, though rather than seeking formal proposals, they’ll issue a request for expression of interesting, “a more open-ended process that… gives the city more options in working with developers and gives developers more flexibility in pitching ideas,” explains the Daily News. “Because it’s such a large site, we’re really trying to generate the most creative and best possible ideas to get some much needed affordable housing built in this community, along with some other community uses,” said Leila Bozorg, HPD’s deputy commissioner of neighborhood strategies.
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Neighborhoods : Greenpoint