WILLOWBROOK — The City Council approved plans to turn a long-abandoned poorhouse and hospital in Willowbrook into a $91 million residential community for seniors.
Plans to transform the dilapidated New York City Farm Council buildings to create a retirement community called Landmark Colony were unanimously approved by the Council at its Tuesday meeting, with plans to open it in 2018, the Staten Island Advance first reported.
Local developer NFC Associates LLC plans to develop the 43-acre site on Brielle Avenue, vacant since 1975, into nearly 350 units, according to architect Vengoechea + Boyland Architecture/Urban Planning, LLP.
"When the first residential unit is brought on line, I will be 52 years old and just three years shy of being eligible to live there," said Borough President James Oddo, who originally pushed to revitalize the site in 1999 while on the Council.
"If you would have told me in March 1999 when we started focusing on Farm Colony that it would be 2016 when life would finally start being breathed back into these buildings, I probably would have rolled my eyes. This has been a journey of fits and starts, but ultimately Farm Colony will be converted into Landmark Colony and it will be one of the best places to live on Staten Island. Seeing this revitalization will make the work of the last decade and a half worth it."
Aside from housing, the project also calls for a parking lots, retail space, community space and 17 acres of open public space, according to the architect. The developer also plans to preserve some of the historic buildings, the architect said.
The landmarked site opened as the Richmond County Poor Farm in 1829 and required residents to work farming fruits and vegetables, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
It later served as a hospital and senior home until it was closed in 1975.
The buildings were landmarked by the city in 1985, but they have deteriorated since. They have also been targeted by vandalism, graffiti, occasional ghost hunts and were hit by a string of fires in 2013.
That year, after several plans to redevelop the site failed, the city's Economic Development Corporation announced a deal with NFC Associates to transform the site into a senior community.
Developer Raymond Masucci bought the plot of land for $1 and plans to rehab five buildings, demolish five others and preserve one, the New York Times reported.