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Queens Chronicle

Senior housing to open later this year

Catholic Charities project in former Fineson Center moving forward

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Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:40 am, Thu Jan 24, 2013.

It may be the only building in all of Howard Beach that was not badly affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The former Fineson Developmental Center building at 155-55 Cross Bay Blvd. is being converted into a new senior citizens housing development by Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, and the construction site was not badly affected by Sandy.

Judy Kleve, vice president of Older Adult Services at Catholic Charities, said construction is moving forward at a steady pace and the building is now expected to be ready for occupancy by late summer or fall.

By a stroke of luck, the structure escaped the devastation wrought upon most of Howard Beach during Hurricane Sandy last October. The building, which is located between 156th Avenue and the Belt Parkway at the extreme northern end of the neighborhood, sits a few feet higher than most of the rest of the community, and that kept the worst of the floodwaters at bay.

Kleve said there was minimal flood damage, and the blackout in the weeks after the storm forced a halt in the work, but the storm did not force any big delay in the construction or damage the infrastructure of the building.

“We fared well. Thank God,” she said.

Construction started on the project a year ago. The new complex will have 96 units, 76 of which will be studio or one-bedroom apartments for low-to-moderate-income senior citizens age 60 and over. Seniors living in neighborhoods served by Community Board 10 will be given preference in the application process. The other 20 units will be will be one- or two-bedroom units, reserved for residents with developmental disabilities, who will be supervised. The multiple-bedroom units are being constructed so persons with disabilities can have a caregiver live with them.

Applications to live in the new housing development have not yet been distributed and the process is likely to begin in early spring.

The building housed the Bernard Fineson Developmental Center from 1975 until it closed its doors in 2009. The conversion to senior housing was discussed almost immediately after the Fineson Center moved out and the $31 million to fund the project was raised by December 2011, with construction beginning the next month.

The building will also be the new home of the Howard Beach Senior Center, which was forced out of its former location in the basement of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center after Sandy’s storm surge flooded and destroyed the senior center’s offices.

Kleve announced at the center’s annual New Year’s party on Jan. 8 that the senior center — which is temporarily located at St. Helen’s Father Dooley Hall — will move into the new building, to the delight of it’s members.

“We have a wonderful area on the first floor that will be a great home for [the senior center],” she said.

Catholic Charities took over operations of the Howard Beach Senior Center late last year, though it is still funded through the city Department of the Aging. The organization and the senior center were in talks even before Sandy.

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