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The developer tapped by the city to turn the abandoned Greenpoint Hospital into affordable housing has backed out of the long-awaited project, leaving the future of the building up in the air and neighbors outraged over continued inaction at a site has lay fallow since 1982.
The Great American Construction Corp. pulled out of the $52-million redevelopment of the vacant medical building this summer after its senior executive William Clarke was indicted on bribery charges at a separate job.
The news halts any development at the main hospital building, which was slated to become 240 units of below-market rate apartments.
City officials say they remain committed to turning the hospital in housing, but will restart a lengthy bidding process from scratch — a proposal that infuriates community activists who claim they’re best-suited to rebuild the site, and do it quickly.
A coalition of North Brooklyn neighborhood groups wants the city to hand over the reins to St. Nick’s Alliance, a Williamsburg-based non-profit housing developer that lost out on the Greenpoint Hospital bidding two years ago and sued the city claiming it picked an under-qualified applicant.
Activists back St. Nick’s proposal, touting the non-profit’s track record in the community.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Ryan Kuonen, a Community Board 1 member who voted repeatedly in favor of St. Nick’s plan. “At the very least, they should pick one of the other two groups that applied.”
But Department of Housing Preservation and Development spokesman Eric Bederman said a new bidding process is the only fair way to proceed.
“All interested parties would be encouraged to apply and would receive a fair and balanced review, as was the case last time,” he said.
St. Nick’s, working with the Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation, managed to revitalize smaller buildings on the hospital campus, opening a homeless shelter and an arts center.
But the Great American Construction Corp. didn’t get much done inside the main hospital building at Maspeth and Kingsland avenues after it won the bid: the city halted all work at the site last November when the builder was accused of nefarious business practices such as underpaying workers.
Now neighbors say something must be done — and fast.
“Anybody who lives in this community knows that the whole area is an eyesore,” said David Dobosz, who is a member of the Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation. “They have marginalized this community by leaving this abandoned for years.”
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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