Monday, May 28, 2007

St. Mary's Hospital is off the AY affordable housing block

It was never a given, and the news is late, but it's worth noting that St. Mary's Hospital in Crown Heights no longer seems the likely home of affordable for-sale apartments connected to the Atlantic Yards project.

The 600 to 1000 affordable for-sale units are promised in the Memorandum of Understanding regarding housing signed in May 2005 by Forest City Ratner and the housing advocacy group ACORN. Unlike with the 2250 affordable rentals planned at the Atlantic Yards site, the plan has not been memorialized in any Empire State Development Corporation documents.

There's no timetable for the entire complement for-sale units, though 200 are now planned to be built at the AY site, according to an FCR announcement made the day the Public Authorities Control Board approved the project, 12/20/06.

The idea rises, recedes

The Brooklyn Paper reported 10/29/05 that Forest City Ratner was considering the acquision of the just-closed hospital site. That article, as well some follow-ups elsewhere, suggested erroneously that the developer might move some of the affordable rentals to that site; however, Forest City Ratner executive Jim Stuckey consistently said that St. Mary's might be a home for the for-sale units.

Nearly four months ago, a 1/31/07 Daily News article headlined ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL SOLD FOR $22M reported that the investment firm Mazel Precisions "is mulling plans for residential, medical or educational facilities, according to Massey Knakal Realty Services."

Forest City has not made any public statements recently about plans for the for-sale affordable units, which would be dependent on currently scarce public subsidies. Perhaps the developer has other sites in mind, or in hand. Perhaps it's prudent to wait.

However, given FCR's deep pockets, and the relatively small cost for the acquisition (though not the renovation) of the hospital building, it would be interesting to learn why the developer passed on the opportunity.