The city’s controversial plan to redevelop the former Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, now a homeless shelter, into a hotel and conference center is now officially dead… or at least in a very deep sleep.
On Thursday, Louise Dankberg, of the Bellevue Community Advisory Board, and Carol Ann Rinzler, of the Turtle Bay Association, sent out the following email:
Lose / Lose
As of Thursday, April 15, 2010 the City of New York has called a halt to all plans to redevelop the historic Bellevue Psych Building. Often, when things fall apart, somebody wins.
In this case, no one does. The homeless men living in the building will remain in substandard housing. The community will be denied the medically-related facility that was within reach.
The NYU Langone Medical Center and the Science Park will not gain the hotel necessary to make them a truly world-class destination.
Shame on us all.
The Department of Homeless Services sought to downplay the development. According to a DHS spokesperson, the recession and related rise in demand for shelter spaced has slowed down the redevelopment process, but the agency intends to move forward at some point in the future. Further, to allay community concerns, DHS will relocate the shelter entrance to the 30th Street side of the building.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, in a statement, said, “It is unfortunate that the Department of Homeless Services failed to come up with a concrete plan for replacing the men’s shelter, but we should now work together to develop such a plan. Right now, the Bellevue building is in terrible shape and we should not continue to house vulnerable populations there. We need an appropriate location for a shelter in the community, and a plan to redevelop the Bellevue building in accordance with the community’s needs.”
It’s an ignominious end to a redevelopment process that stretches back to at least spring 2008, when the city issued a request for proposals for developers interested in turning the old and storied psychiatric hospital into a hotel and conference center.
Since 1998, the site, bounded by the F.D.R. and First Avenue, and 29th and 30th streets, has served as a homeless intake center and men’s homeless shelter.
The RFP elicited proposals from developer Extell, among others, and was popular in the community, but caused tremendous controversy in Crown Heights, where the homeless shelter and intake center were to be relocated.
Extell had no comment. An official from the Economic Development Agency, which oversaw the RFP process, confirmed the news, and said the RFP will remain open, should a more opportune time present itself.