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SRO plan underway at former hospital.

The ellegant, old structure on Water Street that was home to Gouverneur's Hospital is being revived as housing for the elderly, mentally ill and AID'a sufferers.

The non-profit Community Access Inc. is rehabilitating the double five--story building under the direction of Peter L. Woll Architect.

According to Steven R. Coe, executive director of Community Access, the group is creating 123 single-occupancy efficiency apartments and two doubles.

The majority of the prospective tenants have a history of mental illness and will be receiving treatment, Coe said. The ground floor will contain recreation and classroom space, an exercise room, and an institutional-sized kitchen facility with a cafe/dining area.

A landscape architect is in the process of being selected to design a water garden for the central courtyard and there will be room for other resident gardens, as well, Coe added.

The new apartments are, in fact, a collaborative effort. The property was purchased from the RTC by Community Access for $1.4 million and was paid for by the city's Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) through the SRO Loan Program. HPD is also paying for the major portion of the rehabilitation with $8.25 million.

Tax credit syndicators, the National Equity Fund and the Corporation for the Support of Housing, are providing $4.9 million while a $ 250,000 grant was obtained from Anchor Savings under its Affordable Home Program.

Residents will be paying 30 percent of their incomes towards rent and will be referred by other agencies in the community.

National Enterprise tax credits will help pay for a front desk security/concierge and the New York City Department of Health will provide on site programming, education and other services.

"The idea is to have a college dorm sort of thing," Coe explained, "and to get people involved in all sorts of things. You're restoring peoples lives. "

Architect Beth Cooper said, since the building is a National Landmark, they tried to be as sensitive to the existing skin as possible. Working with a preservation consultant, they have matched both the brownstone and the color of the mortar for pointing in the laboratory.

"The brick was an amazing match," she said. "You just find it by luck. "

Coe said they are working with a budget of approximately $9.3 million between the acquisition and soft costs for the nearly 60,000-square-foot structure. Reserves for programs and other services will bring the total cost to $13.4 million.

Designed by the architectural firm of John Rochester Thomas, the building was constructed in 1897 to replace a smaller hospital to the west. It opened in 1901. A wing was begun in 1904 and finished in 1907 and, in 1930, the roof was removed and a fifth story was added.

In 1961,the hospital lost its accreditation and became a school for the mentally retarded the 1968. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Thereafter, a series of five developers were involved, according to Coe. The last sponsor pledged the property as collateral on another conversion in Staten Island. The bank took over when the developer defaulted and the property was eventually acquired by the RTC.

The last sponsor, Coe said, caused extensive structural damage which is now being restored.

"They broke out spots for air conditioning sleeves and doorways and took out half of the roof, " he explained.

Community Housing wanted to allow for air conditioning, as well but the windows are 4 by 8 feet and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"We were able to get the city to go with design elements that are unusual," Coe said.

Since they could not pierce the walls, the city agreed to a gas-powered air conditioning and heating unit and Con Ed will give them a rebate.

Community Access operates other singles facilities and recreation programs in the East Village and is constructing permanent housing for singles and families on Fourth Street and Avenue C.
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Title Annotation:New York, New York building under rehabilitation through SRO Loan Program paid for by New York, New York Department of Housing Preservation and Development
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Dec 30, 1992
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