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Group Wants Convent Redeveloped into Apartment Building

By Meredith Hoffman | November 30, 2012 12:10pm

BUSHWICK — A former convent is being eyed by a developer for an apartment building that will house special needs residents and low-income families.

The non-profit Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council wants to develop the former Our Lady of Lourdes convent at 1 DeSales Place into a 5-story, 80-unit apartment building, a spokesman for the agency said. 

"Half of the units would be large-family apartments with 3 bedrooms, and half would be studios for people with special needs," the representative Brandon McCall said at Bushwick's Community Board 4 meeting Wednesday night. "We'll have counselors, nurses, security and outdoor space...This is a model that's been proven to work."

The model would combine counselors and other support from Concern for Independent Living, a Long Island-based provider for people with special needs that already has a project in Crown Heights, according to an information sheet McCall distributed at the meeting. McCall noted that the individuals would be "level 1" or high-functioning, so they would be able to integrate with the community.

The project, whose 70,000-square-foot building has been designed by the company OCV Architects, would cost roughly $25 million, according to McCall's fact sheet. 

Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens' Council and the private developer Georgica Green are applying together for tax credits and subsidies from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, his sheet noted. 

If their proposal, which is due Jan. 8, is approved by the state, the project will be completed by the end of 2013, McCall said.

McCall said the development would provide roughly 40 new jobs and that at least half of the apartments would be guaranteed for local Bushwick residents, a key selling point for Bushwick Community Board 4 members, who gave their support to the project.

"We have similar projects in the neighborhood and they've been the best neighbors you can have," the board's chair Nadine Whitted said, noting that the neighborhood was in desperate need of whatever affordable housing it could get.