MOUNT HOPE — St. Barnabas Hospital wants to sell a vacant Bronx lot that residents hope will be filled with new housing or businesses that will bring vibrancy to the neighborhood.
St. Barnabas purchased 2050 Grand Concourse, located at East Burnside Avenue, in February 2007 and originally planned to use it for a nine-story medical building, according to hospital spokesman Steven Clark.
But the institution was forced to abandon these plans once money for the new building was no longer available after the 2008 market crash, Clark said.
The lot is the former site of a Masonic temple but has now been vacant for at least five years. Although St. Barnabas has done some landscaping, such as planting shrubberies around the edge of the site and redoing wire fencing, locals said they would still much rather see an actual building in the space.
Shanel Ramirez, a 25-year-old student teacher whose family lives near the site, described the lot as useless in its current state, especially given its location at the intersection of two busy roads, and said she thought a pharmacy would be a good fit for the lot.
"It is a waste of space, definitely, and it's a corner spot," she said. "It's a perfect spot. It's just a waste."
Bronx Community Board 5 District Manager Xavier Rodriguez said he was hoping for a residential building geared toward middle-class New Yorkers and that the site's current condition was detrimental to the neighborhood.
"We can't have these eyesores," he said. "It sends the wrong message."
Houlihan-Parnes Realtors is working to sell the property and, although Associate Broker Jerry Houlihan said a deal was still pretty far off, there has been interest in the site, namely from organizations looking to build affordable housing.
"It’s basically affordable housing companies or developers that are going to be tapping into affordable housing grants and funds to build a seven- or eight-story affordable housing project with some medical space on the first and second floors," he said, adding that the medical space would likely be for St. Barnabas.
The lot has been on the market for a few months and, if St. Barnabas is unable to sell it, they would revisit the idea of trying to make the space into a medical facility using newly available federal funds, according to Clark.
Rodriguez said he was hopeful that a deal would come through fairly quickly.
"Sooner is better than later," he said. "Absolutely."