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200-Bed Nursing Home in Red Hook Flood Zone Gets Thumbs-Up From CB6

By Nikhita Venugopal | December 10, 2015 12:11pm
 A rendering of the proposed nursing home at 141 Conover St. in Red Hook.
A rendering of the proposed nursing home at 141 Conover St. in Red Hook.
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Conover King Realty, LLC

RED HOOK — An eight-story nursing home proposed for Red Hook received full support from Communty Board 6 despite resistance from local residents who said the facility was unsuitable and too risky for their flood-prone neighborhood. 

Community Board 6's full board Wednesday reversed the decision of its land use committee and voted in favor of Oxford Nursing Home's 200-bed facility planned for 141 Conover St., officials said.

Oxford, which currently has a facility in Fort Greene, is seeking to build a 157,500 square-foot nursing home, an urgent care center that would be accessible to the public and 53 parking spots for employees and visitors.

To allow construction and operation of the healthcare facility, the company needs to seek rezoning of the 38,000 square-foot property through the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. The project is a roughly $65 million private investment.

The community board's recommendation is only advisory. The application must be reviewed by the City Planning Commission and City Council. 

Last week, CB6's land use committee rejected the project in a 11 to 5 vote with one abstention after more than two-dozen locals argued that the nursing home would be "totally out of character" with the neighborhood. 

Oxford was also criticized for planning the facility in middle of a flood zone. In case of another storm like Hurricane Sandy, which inundated Red Hook in 2012, locals feared that the nursing home's vulnerable patients would draw resources away from the community. 

But CB6's general board, which must review and approve all committee decisions, felt the district was sorely lacking in assisted-living services. 

"The fact is that we're a really an underserved community when it comes to those facilities," CB6 chair Gary Reilly told DNAinfo.

The district, which also includes Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, abruptly lost Prospect Park Residence in 2014.

While the land use committee rejected Oxford's application to rezone the site, Reilly said the committee was still divided on the issue with many Red Hook residents speaking in favor of it. 

To allay some of the local concerns voiced at the meeting last week, Oxford penned a letter promising to be a "good neighbor."

Oxford also convinced CB6 that it had a secure facility and an emergency preparedness plan should another Hurricane Sandy hit the neighborhood. 

"While we recognize the concern that the site is located within a flood zone, this is a challnege that we have overcome by careful design and emergency planning, which is regulated and closely monitored by both the New York City Department of Buildings and the New York State Department of Health," the letter, signed by owner Barry Braunstein, said.

CB6's full board approved the application on the conditions that Oxford keep the promises listed in its letter and that it prevents the site from being using for residential construction.

"We have absoltuely no intention of developing any residential use at this site, nor do we intend to sell the property for residential develoment in the future," Braunstein said in the letter.

City Councilman Carlos Menchaca said in a statement Thursday evening he would not back the rezoning during a City Council vote and would instead work towards finding an alternative site for Oxford's nursing home.  

“This ULURP application will end with a no vote at the City Council. I do not support removing manufacturing zoning to accommodate a nursing home in a Flood Zone-A area for vulnerable homebound seniors," he said. "That would be irresponsible of us particularly in the wake of Superstorm Sandy."