Developer chosen for senior housing project
by Stephen Geffon
Jun 10, 2009 | 2126 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After reviewing bids from three nonprofit organizations, the State Housing Finance Agency (HFA) announced that Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has been selected to turn the Bernard Fineson Developmental Center in Howard Beach into affordable senior housing.

The selection process was overseen by HFA and the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal with the assistance of the state Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

“I applaud New York State’s selection of Catholic Charities to develop the Bernard Fineson site,” said Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer. “Catholic Charities has a well-established record of providing outstanding programs, services, and quality housing throughout New York City. I am confident that Catholic Charities will continue in their tradition of excellence at the Howard Beach location.”

South Queens Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio concurred with Pheffer, stating that he was also happy that Catholic Charities was selected, “since their track record is very good regarding senior housing and working with the community.”

The HFA issued a request for proposals on January 12 for developers looking to purchase the Fineson site and turn it into affordable housing units for low- and moderate-income seniors.

The two structures that make up the Howard Park Unit of the Fineson Center, located at 155-55 Cross Bay Boulevard, are owned by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and occupy 111,000 square feet and sit on 3.4 acres.

According to the HFA, the site, which is in the process of being closed, will be converted by Catholic Charities into a 100-unit apartment development. Eighty of the units will be reserved for seniors over the age of 60. The remaining 20 units would be set aside for individuals supported by the NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD).

“Catholic Charities was chosen because of the high quality of their proposal to redevelop this site and their excellent track record in providing affordable housing and services to seniors throughout Brooklyn and Queens,” Governor David Paterson said. “This is an exciting day as we move one step closer to converting underused state property into much-needed affordable housing for the elderly.”

The development team includes Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation, the housing arm of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens; CPC Resources, a subsidiary of the Community Preservation Corporation; Shuman, Lichtenstein, Claman & Efron, Architects; and Monadnock Construction as the general contractor.

Details of the sale will now be negotiated with the state and the transaction is expected to close next spring. Construction is expected to take 15 to 18 months.

Catholic Charities’ proposal calls for the construction of 89 apartments — 32 studio, 48 one-bedroom, and 9 two-bedroom — laundry facilities, a community space, resident lounges, and offices serving 80 seniors and 20 individuals with developmental disabilities.

According to the proposal, the grounds will be landscaped with extra recreation areas and raised tenant gardens specifically designed for seniors. All tenants will be supported by Catholic Charities’ network of community and social services.

“It is no secret that Southwest Queens is in dire need of quality affordable housing and this project offers a common sense, tangible solution to this chronic problem,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich. “This project will also help to add momentum to other revitalization efforts in the area.”

Community Board 10 chairwoman Betty Braton said the board is pleased with the preliminary selection of Catholic Charities to develop senior housing at the Fineson Center.

“We look forward to working together with them to develop quality senior housing and the enhancement of services to Community Board 10’s large senior population,” Braton said.

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