This medical drama is turning into a soap opera!
The city has once again delayed its decades-old promise to turn the derelict Greenpoint Hospital into below-market-rate housing, this time because is claims it needs it as a laundry for homeless shelters — a wishy-washy excuse, say locals, who are demanding officials clean up their act instead.
“We’re 30 years down the road trying to get this thing done, and it’s one thing after another,” said Eric Bruzaitis of the Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation, a coalition of neighborhood groups that has been rallying to redevelop the sprawling Skillman Avenue site for community use since the infirmary closed in 1982.
City officials announced the project was back on in October last year — three years after the previous developer pulled out amidst a bribery scandal — and the groups showed up at a meeting with the housing department on Feb. 5, expecting to hear that they will open the bidding process for new builders within the month.
Instead, reps threw a wet blanket on the search once again, claiming the homeless department uses the site as the central laundry for most of its shelters, and they’re still looking for somewhere else to fluff and fold.
They’re also holding off to see if some of the buildings on the site are eligible for a national historic register, a rep said.
The coalition wants the development gig to go to local housing organization St. Nick’s Alliance — which already runs several other buildings on the site — and maintains it only lost the original contract to a politically connected Queens builder in 2007 because of a shady selection process, and should have inherited the job immediately when the outer-borough firm pulled out after barely laying a brick. Instead, the city opted to restart the entire bidding process — only to put the whole thing on the back burner for years.
But regardless of who nabs the contract this time, the city says it will now incorporate locals’ two cents into the project — which officials say could include as many as 500 below-market units and a new homeless shelter.
The coalition has spent the past two month gathering feedback from residents, and recently presented the city with a list of 12 demands for whoever does score the contract — including that housing go to the community’s lowest earners, that a significant part of the property is set aside for seniors, and that more than half of the site is run by a local community organization.
The final demand is that the city stop dilly-dallying, because Greenpointers can’t wait any longer for the so-called “affordable” housing to materialize.
“Development must begin immediately and have an expedited process to reflect the urgency of the need for affordable housing in the neighborhood,” it reads.
A rep for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development said the agency is working through it dirty laundry and historic designation delays, and will open the bidding process as soon as possible.
“HPD is actively working to resolve those issues before moving forward with a request for proposal in order to ensure a smooth and successful process,” said spokeswoman Elizabeth Rohlfing.