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City housing officials blasted back at a Greenpoint-based community group last week, saying its agency never promised to reverse its decision to award the $32-million Greenpoint Hospital redevelopment project to a Queens-based company.
“We are not considering the decision. TNS-Great American Construction is still very much the developer,” said Eric Bederman, a city housing spokesman. “No promises were ever made to halt, hold, reconsider or revoke.”
The city’s controversial decision to award the site to two non-Brooklyn development companies has roiled Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation leaders and St. Nicks Alliance, its nonprofit development partner, whose bid was rejected despite its 25 years of advocacy for developing the site.
On April 28, days after learning that the city awarded Greenpoint Hospital project to a competitor, St. Nicks Alliance’s formally appealed the city’s designation and filed a freedom of information request for scores of city documents concerning the bid.
After months of intense lobbying and two demonstrations, Housing Commissioner Rafael Cestero met with Greenpoint Renaissance leaders on July 26 to discuss the project.
At the beginning of the meeting, Cestero indicated that he was resolute in his decision to award the plan to the Queens company, but Greenpoint Renaissance leaders believed he softened his stance by the end of the meeting.
A friendly follow-up call made by Holly Leicht to St. Nicks Alliance Executive Director Michael Rochford weeks later fueled rumors that the city had suspended discussions with TNS-Great American, rumors that several Greenpoint Renaissance leaders professed were true.
But housing officials said that Cestero never pledged to remove the project’s current developer, only promising to listen to the group’s concerns and respond at a later date. Bederman did not make Cestero available to reporters.
Rochford believed that the city backtracked on a decision to review its bid for the Greenpoint campus.
“The St. Nicks Alliance remains optimistic and believes its proposal is the most competitive,” said Rochford.
For now, TNS-Great American will continue its proposal to redevelop the defunct site into 240 units of below-market-rate housing, including a new eight-story building with 170 units for low- and middle-income families, and 70 additional units for low-income seniors.
The winning plan also includes ground-floor commercial space, a senior health-care facility, and new underground parking.
The site, a former hospital serving Greenpoint for 67 years, closed in 1982, and served as a homeless shelter for male individuals for much of the following decade.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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