STATEN ISLAND, NY — City officials wanted to turn a Mid-Island eyesore that had attracted nighttime troublemakers for decades into a 344-unit senior housing complex, but it has been on hold since 2017. Now they can’t tell what’s next.
A spokeswoman for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the municipal entity overseeing the former New York Farm Colony project, which began as a community for the poor in the early 19th century, said the private development partner, NFC Associates, LLC, had not yet obtained the necessary land use approvals.
Such was the case more than five years ago when Advance/SILive.com reported that the $91.7 million project, officially known as “Landmark Colony”, was on hold due to delays in obtaining permits.
“We continue to have ongoing conversations with local leaders regarding the best path forward for this site,” the NYCEDC spokeswoman wrote in an emailed statement.
Raymond Masucci, the Staten Island businessman who heads NFC Associates, did not respond to multiple requests for comment at the time of publication. Masucci also developed “The Tides”, a residential community for seniors in Charleston.
A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Administrative Services said the city still owns the property, meaning it never completed the $1 sale to NFC Associates that was planned for the 43-mile site. acres at the intersection of Brielle and Walcott avenues.
The NYCEDC spokeswoman did not respond to a follow-up question about whether the city had considered other private partners to take over the project.
Former borough president James Oddo spearheaded the Sea View project, which dates back to 2013, when he represented the area on city council. A 2015 Planning Commission document stated that the development should also have created a private road network using the site’s former roads.
The area’s current municipal representative, Councilman David Carr (R-Mid-Island), said he looks forward to working with Mayor Eric Adams’ administration to bring the site to its full potential.
“The rehabilitation of the former farming colony has been an important goal for our community, and the proposal to create an affordable senior housing project for middle-class Staten Islanders looking for a way to stay in the community. borough they love has the potential to meet an important local need,” Carr said in an emailed statement.
In 2014, Community Board 2 of Staten Island, which covers the area, voted in favor of the project, and the last time they received a status update was in 2015, said the Chairman of the Board, Robert Collegio.
The city council approved plans to redevelop the site in 2016, despite having an initial estimated completion date of 2018.
As that project languished for years, the sprawling property has sat idle for decades since the New York Farm Colony closed in 1975.
Formerly known as Richmond County Poor Farm, the local government built the site as a community for the poor in the early 19th century, and the site fell under city control when the five boroughs consolidated into 1898.
Nearly 1,500 islanders received food and shelter here during the Great Depression, and famed Staten Islander Alice Austen called it home in the 1950s.
The site’s buildings, which were granted landmark status in 1985 as part of the Farm Colony-Seaview Hospital Historic District, have lain derelict since closure.
The city-operated Sea View Nursing Home and former sanitarium sits across Brielle Avenue from the Farmy Colony, which has long drawn thrill seekers and gossip.
The filmmakers of a 2009 documentary, titled “Cropsey,” visited the property in search of devil worshipers connected to the Staten Island urban legend and convicted murderer, Andre Rand. He worked as a gardener at the adjacent Willowbrook State School, which now primarily constitutes the campus of the College of Staten Island.
A Friday visit to the site saw the old buildings dilapidated and covered in graffiti. The fresh remains of the crime scene tape could also be seen hanging from four trees. A reader recently messaged Advance/SILive.com on Instagram with a video of an emergency response to the site.
Anyone hoping to gain access to the site wouldn’t have much trouble. On Friday, there was a large hole in the fence next to the dilapidated Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus stop on Brielle Avenue, across from the entrance to “The Brielle” assisted living community.
According to Advance/SILive.com records, efforts to get something useful out of the field date back at least to the days of former councilman John Fusco.
In 1992, the YMCA offered to turn part of the property into public ball diamonds, but had no response from the city, prompting a series of forceful letters from Fusco. Part of what was once the Farm Colony has been turned into ball diamonds, and part of it has been incorporated into the Greenbelt.
More recently, developers wanted to transform the Farm Colony site while preserving its iconic buildings through creative design by St. George-based Vengoechea + Boyland Architecture / Urban Planning, LLP, which also did not respond to requests for comments at the time of publication.
What will happen to the site remains to be seen.