CLIFTON — A planned community center that would've taken over vacant buildings at a Staten Island hospital was canceled by the Salvation Army this week after a decade of planning.
The charity announced Tuesday it would end its campaign to demolish sections of the Bayley Seton Hospital, at 75 Vanderbilt Ave., to replace it with a Ray and Joan Kroc Corps. Community Center after it failed to secure the funds to get the project off the ground.
The center would have focused on families, with a lot a programming aimed at Staten Island's youth.
"Since the proposed Kroc Center was announced in 2006, it has continually confronted significant challenges, including an unprecedented economic recession and the detrimental effects caused by Superstorm Sandy," s Salvation Army spokesman said in a statement.
"While we recognize and appreciate the support the proposal fostered during its 10 year history, the significant financial hurdles simply could not be overcome, prompting this decision to end this campaign for a Kroc Center."
Borough President James Oddo, who pushed hard to get the funding for the center since he took office, said he was disappointed by the news but would work with the Salvation Army in the coming weeks to develop a new plan for the site.
"In the 26 months we have been at Borough Hall we have done everything humanly possible to resuscitate the plans to build a Kroc Center on the North Shore, because we genuinely believed it would have been transformative for so many young Staten Islanders," Oddo said in a statement.
"To say the decision to no longer pursue a Kroc Center in our borough leaves me crestfallen doesn’t begin to capture my sadness, disappointment and frustration."
While Bayley Seton still operates as a hospital run by Richmond University Medical Center, several of the buildings have been vacated and left unused.
The Salvation Army bought six of them and nearly seven acres of the site in 2009 and planned to build a community center using part of a donation from McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, the Staten Island Advance reported.
The group hoped to break ground on the center, which was expected to cost about $68 million, last year, the Advance reported.
Oddo — who's also supporting a plan to put a green startup on another section of the Bayley Seton grounds — said he allocated more than $5 million to the project and tried unsuccessfully to get the city to put in another $20 million.
"Having seen firsthand what the Philadelphia Kroc Center means to that community, I know how short sighted it was for the city to have taken this long making a decision on whether to allocate the remaining capital money needed to build this facility," Oddo said in a statement.
"To think the City of New York has missed an opportunity to leverage some $90 million from the Kroc Foundation, money to build a structure which I believe would have changed, improved and, dare I say, saved lives, is one setback I won’t soon get over."
Oddo added that he'll meet with the Salvation Army and look at the possibility of turning the portion of the campus into a Salvation Army center instead.
"Such a center will not be exactly like what was anticipated with the Kroc complex, but we are anxious to see what it would entail and how we can make it happen," Oddo said.