Political Aid from Across the Spectrum Aids Senior Housing Rehab at Seaview

Developers of Sea View senior housing clear hurdle
Government, at first denying $3M in tax credits, decides to give breaks to builders
Monday, July 02, 2007

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A funding glitch that threatened to halt a senior housing project in Sea View was fixed last week, clearing the way for developers to convert a landmark and abandoned building into affordable units for seniors.

After first denying tax credits worth about $3 million, the federal government has agreed to grant the credits to developers who plan to convert the nurses’ residence on the campus of Sea View Hospital and Rehabilitation Center and Home into 104 apartments.

The change of heart was good news for Allan Arker, a principal in The Arker Companies and one of the lead developers in the project, which is expected to commence shortly after Labor Day. Arker sought the help of Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in getting the credits approved.

“The project would not have been financially feasible and we would have had to go back to the drawing board,” Arker said of the threat of losing the federal credits, which are expected to plug a $3 million budget gap in the $20 million project.

Arker and Domain companies, partners in the project, had applied to the National Park Service under a program that grants tax credits to developers who rehabilitate historic or landmark income-producing properties.

At first, the National Park Service determined that the developers were changing the interior of the landmark nurses’ residence too much to qualify for the credits. The Spanish Mission-style residence served as a dormitory in the early part of the 20th century for nurses who tended to tuberculosis patients on the Sea View campus, but the landmarked building has been vacant and deteriorating for decades.

Arker Companies appealed the Park Service decision, soliciting the help of Sen. Clinton, who wrote a letter to the secretary of the Department of the Interior in support of the project.

“I am writing in the hope that the Department will make every effort to resolve its concerns with the project and allow this worthy and important effort to move forward in a timely manner. I believe that the city proposal will preserve the historic nature of the property, both interior and exterior. At the same time, the project addresses the need to create affordable housing opportunities for seniors,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in a letter last month to Dirk Kempthorne.

Arker said the city’s backing of the project and the support of City Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn) and Borough President James Molinaro also helped keep the project on track

“We were able to convince the National Park Service that this was the best use of the property,” Arker said yesterday. “We had to prove to them that if it were not for the proposed renovation, the building would go without further utilization forever.”

On Wednesday, the City Council gave its approval to the project, which was years in the making. The developers will lease the land from the city and build and manage the senior apartments. The project is expected to be completed by 2009.

Studio units will rent for $744 a month; one-bedrooms, $797, and two bedrooms, $957. Qualified seniors will have to be at least 55 years old and meet certain income requirements.

Antonio Aguilar, acting chief of the technical preservation branch of the National Park Service, said the developers agreed to restore some historic portions of the nurses’ residence, including doors, transoms and staircases.

“The owner has agreed to meet those conditions, and if they meet those conditions they will get certification,” he said.

Karen O’Shea covers real estate news for the Advance. She may be reached at [email protected] .

© 2007 Staten Island Advance

Posted Under: Affordable Housing, Seaview - Farm Colony, Staten Island

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