With no response from the remaining lien holders of the former S.I. Hospital site a.k.a. ‘S.I. Castle’, NYC Buildings department is moving to demo the site. The engineer inspection completed by both Buildings Dept and HPD-Housing and Preservation has yet to be given to City Councilwoman Debi Rose or Community Board 1 for evaluation.
NYC Building Director of Community Affairs, Donald Ranshte, didn’t present the written report during his Community Board 1 , presentation on Nov. 9, 2011. He stated there was no official request, at least of his knowledge, and that it would be immediately given to the Councilwoman and CB#1. As of friday, No 11, 2011, no report was provided.
These are questionable circumstances, especially when CB#1, Preservation League of S.I. and the Councilwoman have made several attempts to get the June report. This questionable behavior is not surprising, when the property has a tangled web of tax liens and a long history of fraud, with the failed condo development in the 1990s.
NYC Landmarks has refused to hold a hearing to even ‘consider’ landmarking the building or the site, despite numerous attempts from the early 1980s when the hospital vacated the site to recent 2010-11 testimony at the S.I. Landmarks day hearings. It has been identified as historically significant by the Historic District Council and NY Landmarks Conservancy. It is also eligible to be a NY State historic register site, but designation has been halted, since, owner support is required. The iconic building has never received due process, yet the Landmarks law was created to allow for hearings to at least discuss historic significance. Despite the fact that the castle only takes up a small portion of the 6 acre site, the building could be landmarked or simply , not demolished, and still offers many development options.
In the recent S.I. Advance article dated Nov 11, 2011, it was stated that, “The demolition timetable means time is short, but Buildings did provide preservationists with one possible glimmer of hope at the Wednesday meeting. Said spokesman Ranshte: “An emergency declaration can be revised and amended.”
Call Councilwoman Debi Rose at 718-556-7370 and Mayor Bloomberg at 311 to request NYC Buildings provide alternative plans to salvage the historic building.
With demo, our tax dollars will be spent and another lien will be placed on the property. This is not any solution and the 30 million plus in tax liens will continue to accumulate. There is nothing in place to make the current lien holders accountable for the deoriation of the property.
Why spend money on demolition, when the same funds could go towards ‘shoring up the site’. One option that has been proposed by local elected officials, is to use ‘eminent domain’ to take ownership and allow the site to be developed with an open biding process. It is unlikely that NYC will ever recoup the existing tax liens, but the longer it sits, the longer no real estate taxes are collected and the community is left with only a vacant lot.
Call: 718-816-2000 Borough hall to ask to allow for ‘shoring’ up the site and for the city to resolve this issue with the preservation of an iconic building.
This blog is the personal opinion of Angela D’aiuto, Co-Chair of the Save the SI Castle Committee and Board member of Preservation League of S.I.