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Abandoned Staten Island Poorhouse to Be Developed Into Senior Community

By Nicholas Rizzi | October 25, 2013 2:34pm
 The former New York City Farm Colony will be transformed into a residential community for seniors, the city announced.
The former New York City Farm Colony will be transformed into a residential community for seniors, the city announced.
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WILLOWBROOK — A long-abandoned poorhouse and hospital in Willowbrook will be transformed into a residential community for seniors, the city announced on Friday.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation unveiled a deal with a developer to overhaul the dilapidated New York City Farm Colony buildings and create a retirement community called Landmark Colony.

“The Landmark Colony project will rehabilitate a dilapidated area and create a facility that benefits the community while maintaining the integrity of this historic site,” Kyle Kimball, president of the EDC, said in a statement.

“This transformative project joins a number of others in the borough that will ensure Staten Island continues to grow and flourish for years to come.”

Staten Island-based NFC Associates LLC. will preserve some of the historic buildings on the 43-acre site, at 501 Brielle Ave., and will build others to create a 300-unit community for senior citizens.

The former Farm Colony, which is landmarked, has been vacant since 1975.

It opened as the Richmond County Poorhouse in 1829, requiring residents to work farming fruit and vegetables. It later served as a geriatric hospital and home until it closed in 1975.

The buildings were landmarked in 1985, but they have deteriorated. In May, a string of fires hit the site, and the buildings have been subject to vandalism, graffiti and occasional ghost hunts.

Plans to redevelop the site have popped up over the years, but they have all stalled until now. 

“Since my first year in office, back in 1999, I have made it my mission to find a use for Farm Colony that honors and protects its historic legacy, preserves the buildings that are worth saving and allows the site to be used as a community asset,” Councilman James Oddo said in a statement.

“I am happy to say that this plan will do all those things. It's been a long time, but sometimes good things are worth waiting for.”

The EDC put out a request for proposals for the site in 2012, and chose NFC Associates LLC. to build the $91 million senior center. They plan to break ground on the project in 2016.

Aside from the residential units, NFC Associates also plans to have retail space and community space, including a recreation center, gardens and an outdoor theater. Around 30 period-inspired carriage houses and apartments will also be built on the site.

Of the 11 buildings from the Farm Colony that are still standing, five will be rehabilitated for occupancy and two will be stabilized and preserved. The rest will be demolished after the developer gets approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

A 1-acre open space will become a memorial to the colony residents who were buried on the grounds. The developer will reach out to local artists to create a monument.