It is an acute case of red tape-itis!
The city is finally resuscitating its plan to turn the abandoned Greenpoint Hospital into below-market-rate housing three years after the developer it selected against the wishes of locals fell through — but residents say they feel sick at the thought of enduring another lengthy bidding process after the city ignored their preferred candidate the first time around.
“It’s insulting,” said Community Board 1 member Karen Nieves after the city announced its plan to launch a new, two-year bidding process for the redevelopment at a panel meeting on Wednesday. “The community had a plan. We could’ve built upon that plan and housing would have already been done.”
The news has re-opened some very old wounds. The city first began seeking bids to build around 240 below-market units in the long-dormant hospital in 2007, and many locals rallied behind a proposal from a consortium of neighborhood groups dubbed the Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation — which had been agitating for the redevelopment since the hospital closed in 1982 and had already turned other parts of the sprawling property into a homeless shelter and an arts center.
But housing officials instead anointed a Queens developer for the $52-million job in 2010 — prompting backlash from community groups and local pols who variously claimed the company had received unfair advantages and fibbed to get the nod — only for the developer to pull the plug two years later after one of its honchos was indicted on bribery charges.
Greenpoint Renaissance and its backers argued it was the rightful heir to the redevelopment, but city officials at the time insisted the bidding process had to begin again, and then the project then sat dormant for the rest of the Bloomberg administration.
Now, the Department of Housing says the DeBlasio administration is putting the redevelopment back on the agenda and it is finally ready to begin receiving proposals again — though it will now be another two and a half years before the winning bidder breaks ground.
The city claims it must seek new bids because it has dramatically expanded the scope of the project since 2007. Department reps said the new development could include as many as 500 below-market units, a new homeless shelter, and a face-lift for the public space surrounding the buildings — and it plans to conduct a series of meetings with locals to find out exactly what they want first.
“We don’t want to move forward, wiping the slate clean from scratch, because we do know there are certain things that are important to this community,” said spokeswoman Lin Zeng.
But Community Board 1 and Greenpoint Renaissance members say they already know what the community needs — an urgent injection of below-market and senior housing — and if the city truly had residents’ best interests at heart, it would get behind the group many have backed since the beginning.
“If the only thing you have to tell us is the footprint has changed for the site, then give the new footprint to the GREC group and let them come back with what they feel is more beneficial to the community,” said Community Board 1 district manager Gerald Esposito. “Because between the GREC group and the community board, we feel we know what’s best for the community.”