Greenpoint Gazette

Greenpoint Hospital: The Neighborhood is Watching

BY Juliet Linderman

As the month of March—and the first official quarter of 2010—winds to a close, Greenpointers can’t help but wonder: What about the Greenpoint Hospital?

Just two weeks ago HPD assured concerned neighbors that site control over the infamous Greenpoint Hospital site—a massive seven-tower abandoned hospital campus in the heart of Greenpoint/Williamsburg slated to be developed into affordable housing—would be awarded to one of the applicants by the end of March.

“The realities of economic climate and housing market are very different today than they were when the RFP was originally issued, and accordingly we have asked the respondents to submit a revised financial analysis which we are currently reviewing,” said Eric Bederman, a representative from HPD. “We presently anticipate designating a developer by the end of March.”

However, now that the month is over neighbors are frustrated that HPD still has not responded to a Request for Proposals that was issued more than three years ago—the longest wait in recent history—after not one but two previous delays. Last Wednesday, the Community Advisory Board held their quarterly meeting to discuss, among other neighborhood issues, the fate of the Greenpoint Hospital.

HPD said they were ready to move on it in the next few weeks, but I expressed my disappointment,” said Estaban Duran, a Community Board and Advisory Board member. “They said they were renewing the finances and they are basically very close, and said they understood and were ready. But I can’t believe it’s taken them this long. It has to happen.”

Bederman confirmed that HPD is, in fact, very close to making a decision and will be ready to notify the community in the upcoming weeks.

“We are still on pace to choose a developer for the site in the near future,” he said. “During a time when many development projects have become stalled due to drastic market changes, HPD has stayed committed to finding a way to move this project forward for the Greenpoint/Williamsburg community.”

Despite this promise, community members—especially those involved with groups that responded to the RFP so many years ago—remain skeptical, and pledge their commitment to keeping a watchful eye over the process.

“I don’t know what’s holding it up but there are eyes on this right now,” said Diana Jackson, President of the Cooper Park Tenants Association and a member of the Greenpoint Hospital Renaissance Enterprise Corporation, or GREC. Three years ago GREC responded to the RFP with a comprehensive plan for affordable and senior housing. The GREC proposal calls for a 10,000 square-foot senior health facility that would help replace the benefits of the original hospital, whose 1982 shuttering coincided with the opening of Woodhull Medical Center. In addition, the plan includes 175 units of affordable family housing. HPD is currently considering two other proposals, one of which submitted by the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Coalition, which was recently granted site control over a portion of the Broadway Triangle, another city-owned plot designated for affordable housing.

“Everyone’s watching to see what happens, and to make an unfavorable decision would be damaging to HPD and damaging to the city, because I’m sure we’re not just going to sit back and accept this quietly,” Jackson continued. “I hope with all this time, they’re carefully contemplating who this project will be awarded to. Before it was February, then it was December. Every time we approach the deadline HPD comes up with a new one. It’s a political hot-potato.”

The RFP for The Greenpoint Hospital was initially drawn up by the city as part of the 2005 Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning. The city committed to fund the creation of 1,800 units of affordable housing on city-owned sites within Community Board 1 like the Greenpoint Hospital Campus. To date, only 16 units have been built while other projects within CB 1 requiring city funding have proceeded forward.

Stay tuned for ongoing updates as HPD prepares to make a final decision.

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