WILLIAMSBURG — The city has denied a prominent community coalition rights to develop the long-vacant Greenpoint Hospital, angering advocates who have spent decades fighting to create affordable housing on the property, DNAinfo.com has learned.
The Greenpoint Hospital — a site by Cooper Park that closed 30 years ago and since then has been subject to heated debates over its potential uses — was slated for development by the private groups Great American and Lemle & Wolff, but the two groups backed out Great American's CEO was indicted for bribery, as the Daily News reported.
The companies did not return requests for comment, and the city would not comment on the bribery charges.
Since the groups backed out, local coalition Greenpoint Renaissance Economic Corp. — a group including non-profit St. Nick's Alliance that has applied to develop the spot several times over the years, and that already developed five buildings on the property — has campaigned to develop the space into 265 units of affordable housing and a comprehensive care program for local senior citizens.
But a spokeswoman for the city’s Housing and Preservation Commission said Thursday the agency would not give the rights to GREC or St. Nick's.
"Interested groups may submit a proposal when a new RFP is released," the spokeswoman said.
But members of the groups said the denial was ridiculous, and that the site had gone vacant long enough.
"Why doesn't the Mayor realize we earned the right to get the land because we put such efforts to develop housing and healthcare?" lamented Theresa Cianciotta, who founded GREC along with her husband Guido Cianciotta 30 years ago.
GREC already successfully developed one building of affordable housing, as well as community and arts centers on the block, she noted.
"We need affordable housing for our seniors,” she said. "It's disheartening to think we had to go through all this…I just don’t want to see us go back to the drawing board."
David Dobosz from GREC also slammed the city’s decision, noting that senior citizens in the neighborhood were in desperate need of the affordable housing the project would provide.
"These seniors could move in there, if HPD would just stop being such a noodge and a grudge," he said. “There is no need to further delay moving ahead with developing the site.”
Local politicians have also campaigned for GREC’s development rights, and noted that more than 40 local organizations back the project.
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, New York State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, and Councilmember Diana Reyna sent letters to the Commissioner of HPD and to Mayor Michael Bloomberg requesting the local non-profit group be granted rights to develop the property.
"This community has suffered through years of delays and already gone through two competitive RFPs," the officials said in their letter. "The decaying buildings on the site have become an eyesore and a magnet for crime. It’s time for the city to the right thing and allow this plan to be implemented."