Hundreds of workers, including doctors and nurses, may be thrown into the breadline when a major hospital campus in the epicenter of the Caribbean community in Brooklyn is turned into affordable housing development.
Last month, New York Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo announced plans for a 266-unit affordable housing development as part of a $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn Initiative.
Cuomo said the project is to transform Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center North Campus into apartment buildings, with health, wellness, employment and support services.
The development is part of the governor’s $578 million commitment to create 4,000 units of affordable housing in Central Brooklyn.
Cuomo said the Kingsbrook Estates will offer affordable housing and a wide array of health, wellness, employment and support services for residents and the broader community.
“The transformation of the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center North Campus is the latest step forward in our effort to revitalize Central Brooklyn with a $578 million investment in affordable housing,” said Cuomo in making the announcement. “The new Kingsbrook Estates will be an outstanding development that delivers top-quality affordable housing and much needed health and social services to residents of Central Brooklyn.”
As part of the proposal, the governor said three existing buildings on the 102,000 square-foot Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center North Campus will be demolished and replaced with two newly-constructed buildings.
The Leviton Building, another building on the campus, will be redeveloped from hospital use into housing units, he said.
Cuomo said the final development will be 266 apartments in three buildings, with units affordable to a range of income levels.
He said residents will include older adults and disabled veterans.
“There will be access to health and wellness classes, vocational training and employment skills development, physical activity programs and integrated care,” he said. “On-site amenities will include a therapeutic garden, outdoor exercise equipment, walkways, children’s play areas, outdoor kitchens and grills, as well as an indoor teaching kitchen.”
Additionally, Cuomo said the development will provide a nurse’s station, with on-site services and counseling space, fitness, activity, and community rooms, lounges, laundry rooms and bike storage.
The governor said free Wi-Fi will also be provided in residential units and throughout the campus, “which is a hallmark of Vital Brooklyn’s commitment to increasing internet access across Central Brooklyn.”
He said One Brooklyn Health System (OBHS) and Kingsbrook Estates will also provide all-inclusive care for the elderly in the development’s 7,000 square-foot PACE Center.
These services will be available to residents of the development and the surrounding community, Cuomo said.
He said the development will include a host of energy efficiency strategies, such as Enterprise Green Communities Certification, addressing more than three times the energy savings requirement.
Cuomo said the project will also meet the standards of the ENERGY STAR multifamily high-rise program to satisfy Climate Bond Initiative requirements, and will include solar photo voltaic panels and green roof systems on the buildings.
“Gov. Cuomo’s Vital Brooklyn Initiative is a transformative investment that will enhance the quality of life in Central Brooklyn for decades to come,” said New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas. “When complete, Kingsbrook Estates will have 266 affordable and energy-efficient homes with amenities that encourage a healthy, active lifestyle and services that promote wellness, education and career improvement.
“Too often, high-quality health care and housing is out of reach for lower-income or special-needs households,” she added. “With this holistic approach to neighborhood revitalization, we are breaking down these barriers and building a stronger, healthier Central Brooklyn for all.”
LaRay Brown, OBHS’s chief executive officer, said: “Thanks to Gov. Cuomo’s tremendous support, One Brooklyn Health System has made important strides towards ensuring access to high quality healthcare in Central Brooklyn.
“The Kingsbrook Estates development furthers OBHS’ mission to build health and wellness services that address social determinants of health through partnerships,” he said. “By creating affordable, as well as supportive housing, this exciting development will enhance the quality of life for the entire community.
“I look forward to continuing to work with the governor, Brooklyn legislators, state agencies and the sponsors of Kingsbrook Estates to enable Central Brooklyn residents to live their healthiest lives possible,” Brown added.
Nicholas Lembo, chairman of Monadnock Development & Monadnock Construction, said: Monadnock is thrilled to be awarded Vital Brooklyn Sites E,F,G & H, Kingsbrook Estates, and we look forward to working with NYS HCR (New York State Homes and Community Renewal) and the entire One Brooklyn Health System leadership to develop high quality, affordable housing in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
“We want to thank Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYS HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas for their leadership and ongoing commitment to housing the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” he said.
Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson, representative for the 43rd Assembly District in Central Brooklyn and daughter of Aruban and St. Martin immigrants, said she believes that “every New Yorker deserves a safe and decent place to call home.
“Residents of Central Brooklyn pay approximately half of their total household income on rent alone — compared to 32 percent of household income statewide,” she said. “Real affordable housing that matches our Neighborhood Area Medium Income (NAMI), like Kingsbrook Estates, is critical to maintaining Brooklyn’s affordability.
“We welcome this project and real solutions that address our affordable housing crisis,” she added. “We are strongly committed to transforming the lives of Central Brooklyn’s residents. “The development of Kingsbrook Estates is critical, and should set the precedent on the type of development that is needed in our community.
“I look forward to working with the winning developer, and I want to thank Commissioner Visnauskas and the team at New York State Housing Community Renewal, who worked diligently to ensure this project reflected the community’s priorities,” Richardson continued.
“I also owe a great deal of gratitude to the residents of the 43rd Assembly District who helped to shape this project by adding their collective voice through participation at our monthly Civic Minded meetings,” she said. “This project is a step in the right direction of addressing our community’s housing needs.”
Richardson’s 43rd Assembly District encompasses Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Wingate and East Flatbush.
Sen. Zellnor Myrie, representative for the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn, said: “Everyone deserves quality housing and healthcare services, yet every day, people come into my office who are in desperate need of these basic necessities.
“The redevelopment at Kingsbrook Jewish Hospital for affordable housing, along with a creation of a hub for health-related services, is a welcome addition to our district, and I look forward to its completion,” said Myrie, who traces his roots to Jamaica. “I commend the community and my colleagues in government who worked tirelessly to make this a reality.”
Last month’s announcement adds to four winning proposals the governor announced last November to create more than 2,700 affordable homes in Central Brooklyn.
The projects include apartments and supportive services for the developmentally disabled, individuals aging out of foster care and chronically homeless families.
The governor said he launched the Vital Brooklyn Initiative in spring 2017 “in order to address this array of disparities that affect residents of Brooklyn and to create a new model for community development and wellness in Brooklyn’s most vulnerable communities.
Cuomo said he then charged each Assembly Member in Central Brooklyn with convening a Community Advisory Council comprising community leaders, local experts, advocates and other stakeholders to consider the unique needs and opportunities in their districts, and to develop long-term solutions.
He said State Senators representing parts of Central Brooklyn were also actively engaged in the process.
Cuomo said a total of 25 community meetings brought together nearly 100 key community stakeholders.