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Abandoned Hospital In Staten Island Is Accepting Development Proposals

Sprawling complex on 8-acres, which lay abandoned for fifty years, wants a new lease of life.

By Jeff Vasishta December 15, 2016
Photo courtesy of Amy Heiden http://www.amyheiden.com Amy Heiden Photography

A sprawling 26-building campus on 80 acres in New York City, surrounded by scenic woodland, could only remain abandoned for so long. Now the city’s Economic Development Corp has sent out a request to turn what was once the nation’s largest tuberculosis hospital in Staten Island, into a mixed-use development focusing on healthy living.

If you were a scrawny, poor child with a chesty cough in New York City in the early 1900’s, there was a good chance you had tuberculosis. Your prognosis was grim. Fresh air, rest, and sunshine were the only staples prescribed and the best place to receive them the Sea View Hospital. The advent of antibiotics meant that it has sat abandoned for almost fifty years.

Any successful proposal, says Borough President James Oddo, will have to incorporate the a health care component because of Staten Island’s increased population of older residents—along with high rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and drug addiction.

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Though nothing specific has been finalized, and it’s unclear to what extent the focus on healthy living should extend, Mr. Oddo is adamant that it should be comprehensive.

“Our health indicators are going in the wrong direction,” he was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal. “I saw we could fill a gap on Staten Island by promoting a project that targets emerging industries in health and wellness.”

A feasibility study has been in the works since 2014, with architecture firm Perkins + Will selected to propose redevelopment options. Features are set to include abundant public spaces to encourage physical activity, access to healthy food and connectivity to the nearby Staten Island Greenbelt—a series of forests and wetlands that runs through the site. Beyond that, details are vague.

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The conversions of hospitals to mainstream living facilities is, of course, nothing new. In recent years there have a been a spate of them as the demand for residential living in NYC has grown. Earlier this year, the Cabrini Medical Center  (215 East 19th Street,) which closed in 2008, began its transitioning process to become the luxury Gramercy Square at a cost of $350 million. The team handling the change comprised Chetrit Group, Clipper Equity, and the Read Property Group. Some of the original buildings were razed, and a new one added in order to create a kind of 223 apartment/condo village on the 1.4-acre site.

Changing from a fifty-year-old medical facility to a hip luxury apartment building is a challenge both internally and externally. Beige was a go to color of choice for much of the ’60’s and ’70’s. Modern day structures are all about light, air, and relaxation.

In case of the Cabrini/Gramercy Square project, the New York Times reported that “…the developer replaced the tower’s beige bricks with cast stone, added bronze trim and cut larger windows <…> By removing a wing that ran from 19th to 20th Street connecting two of the buildings and sprucing up lifeless air shafts with plants, Gramercy Square is attempting to invigorate its outdoor areas. The centerpiece of the nearly half-acre of landscaped grounds, designed by the firm MPFP, is a courtyard tucked amid all four buildings and anchored by a solarium.”

Hospital-to-condo conversions appear to be something of a specialty for the Chetrit Group. In 2009, they purchased the Mary Immaculate Hospital, at 150-13 89th Avenue in downtown Jamaica, Queens. Their redesign, released in March 2015, features four new buildings, the highest of which is 16 stories. The new buildings will comprise 324 apartments across 298,000 square feet.

Although old hospitals are often a staple of older neighborhoods that employs locals and fosters a community atmosphere, if they aren’t particularly profitable, new investment in the shape of housing can help turn an area around. Technological advances also mean that patients no longer need the bed space that they once did. Designing a brand new medical facility with technology in mind can sometimes be the way to go—rather than keeping an old warhorse on life support.

 

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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