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Inching toward completion: New center for Red Hook seniors will open five-plus years after Sandy destroyed original

Near completion: The still-in-construction senior center for Red Hook elders will open later this year on West Ninth Street near Clinton Street, more than five years after superstorm Sandy destroyed its predecessor.
Photo by Zoe Freilich

The wait is getting old.

A new center for Red Hook seniors will open later this year, more than five years after superstorm Sandy destroyed its predecessor. And neighborhood elders who are forced to congregate in a local community center’s basement in the meantime are pumped for its long-awaited arrival, according to a local leader.

“Everybody is patiently waiting,” said Lillie Marshall, tenant association president at public housing complex Red Hook West Houses. “They’ll be happy when it opens because it’s been going on and on.”

The new $2.9-million center on West Ninth Street near Clinton Street was supposed to debut in 2015. But a series of unexpected issues, including leaks in the walls and from an underground water tank, delayed the process, according to a New York City Housing Authority spokeswoman.

“There were a lot of unforeseen circumstances that were out of our control,” said Zodet Negron.

Area oldsters — most of whom are from the housing complex — previously mingled at a senior center in the basement of a Wolcott Street building, but the massive storm demolished it with more than five-feet of flooding.

The new facility will occupy an old day-care space that was shuttered for three years prior the 2015 start of its conversion to a senior center, and required a gut renovation.

Most of the work is finished, according to Negron, who said it is then up to the Department of Buildings to green-light opening the center. When complete, it will offer elders a fresh space to enjoy favorite pastimes such as bingo and mahjong as well as meals, exercise classes, and benefits screenings, according to a Department of Aging spokeswoman.

The Red Hook Houses are in the midst of implementing $550 million in upgrades to protect the complex from future storms, including installing new roofs and elevated courtyards designed to prevent flooding, and raising electrical equipment.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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