In a city critically short of both affordable housing and homeless shelters, the long-abandoned former Greenpoint hospital can help alleviate both severe shortages in North Brooklyn. Over a year ago, plans were finalized for the conversion of the site and soon the former hospital will serve the public in these critical areas. The Greenpoint Hospital served the community for 70 years and many locals were born in the hospital. Constructed of brick and limestone, the attractive main building includes elements of Romanesque Revival, Italianate and Neo-Classical architectural styles. After opening in 1914, the hospital closed in 1982 amidst much local anger.
In a plan that includes a new homeless shelter and affordable apartments for low-income residents, the Hudson Companies, St. Nicks Alliance, and Project Renewal were chosen by the city’s Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development to redevelop the former Greenpoint Hospital site at 288 Jackson Street.
Magnusson Architecture and Planning and the firm Architecture Outfit will jointly develop 512 new units of affordable housing that will be housed in four separate buildings. The development will include an attractive campus with 21,500 square feet of communal space with a resident lounge, dining facilities, and a workforce development center. Completion of the project will involve two phases. In the first phase, the existing 200-bed shelter at the site will be moved to the southern portion of the development site in a rehabbed building. The first phase will also include construction of a new building with 267 apartments.
Phase two will redevelop the main hospital building, that will be converted to a senior home with 109 apartments. The building that houses the boiler will be demolished and a 136-unit apartment building is slated to replace it. 30 percent of the total apartments are reserved for the formerly homeless.
The development of the site is long overdue thanks to corruption. In 2012, the Great American Construction Corporation won the contract to convert the Nurses Quarters of Greenpoint Hospital into affordable housing but suddenly backed out of the project when its senior executive was indicted on bribery charges on an unrelated project. Since Great American’s backing out, rebidding the building remained abandoned for years.
The building was deemed obsolete by the city and many of its beds were empty. Mayor Koch described in his autobiography “Koch” experiencing the wrath of furious locals in a local visit to justify the Hospital’s closure. He faced harrowing moments when he was separated from his security detail to confront screaming locals alone. Much of the anger stemmed from the fact that ambulances would have to travel much further to the new Woodhull hospital in far –away Bushwick after the Greenpoint hospital was closed.
Some famous people passed through its doors. The great Irish writer Frank McCourt was born there and Frank Serpico’s life was saved in the emergency room. One of its doctors also became famous. Dr. Clarke Smith who became director of emergency services at the Hospital was a leader in drafting “a Patient’s Bill of Rights” which became a model later adopted nationally. The project’s completion cannot come a moment too soon for our rapidly gentrifying area.