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Queens Chronicle

Pols want more funds for senior housing

Howard Beach building met some unexpected issues in conversion

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Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 11:06 am, Thu Sep 6, 2012.

A former hospital in Howard Beach being converted into senior citizen housing met with some unexpected problems and needs more funding.

Two of the area’s state legislators, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Far Rockaway) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to release money from the Port Authority Regional Funds Account for the project, which is being converted into a housing development for senior citizens by Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens.

The building, located at 155-59 Cross Bay Blvd at the corner of 156th Avenue, is a former hospital. During construction, unexpected roof and facade damage was more extensive than had been expected as it was more prone to water penetration that developers had thought. The building was constructed in the 1960s and enlarged in the 1980s.

In addition to having been a hospital, the building was home to the Bernard Fineson Developmental Center, that served people with disabilities.

Addabbo and Goldfeder sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo requesting funding from the Port Authority’s Regional Funds Account to cover the cost overruns. Half a million dollars from the account was requested during the term of former-Gov. David Paterson for soundproofing at the site, which sits under a major flight path to JFK Airport. Fully loaded jetliners fly just a few hundred feet above the building. The money was never released because Paterson left office in 2011, and now the legislators are asking Cuomo to honor that request.

“There was a lot of facade work that was done improperly in the original construction and they didn’t use the proper ties to place the brick structure,” said Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, vicar of Catholic Charities in Queens and Brooklyn. “This is such an important project, and at this point we’re just hoping to ensure that the building we develop will be secure and watertight, so we do not run into problems in the future that will be much more costly.”

Addabbo said the money is crucial to the development’s completion.

“The funding that Assemblyman Goldfeder and I are seeking would truly assist the Senior Housing Development in Howard Beach by dealing with the unforeseen additional costs of construction,” he said.

Catholic Charities got approval for the conversion of the building in 2010, but construction did not begin until this year because funds were being raised.

Eighty percent of the 96 units at the complex will be reserved for low-to-moderate-income senior citizens over 60 years of age, with a preference for current residents of Community Board 10, which includes the neighborhoods of Howard Beach, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill. The other 20 percent of the units are reserved for people supported by the state’s Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, which would include the disabled and parents who take care of them.

Construction at the site began in January and is slated to be completed by 2014.

Goldfeder said the center is a much-needed addition to the community, which is already home to a large senior population.

“The Catholic Charities senior housing development is the first of its kind and sorely needed for the growing senior population in Howard Beach,” he said.

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