Plans for Farm Colony Redevelopment Approved

Image Credit LPC.

Revised design for new Clubhouse. Image Credit LPC.

Applicants presented design plans and greater detail, and revised plans for new clubhouse to better relate to historic buildings. On October 28, 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve an application for binding and advisory reports for the redevelopment of the New York City Farm Colony-Seaview Hospital Historic District. The developers of the site are NFC associates, who plan to use the 45-acre site to create 350 units of housing for people aged 55 or older, as well as for retail and community facility space.

Vacant since the 1970s, the district’s buildings have fallen victim to vandalism and the elements. Five of the eleven existing structures would be demolished, with the others being rehabilitated, and one stabilized and preserved as an arrested ruin. New structures and additions would provide residential, commercial and community facility space, a new ring road would be added, and the area would be significantly re-landscaped.

The Commission held a hearing on the proposal on September 30, at which the project garnered support from elected officials and community groups. Commissioners however, given the large scope of the redevelopment, wished to see designs for individual buildings presented in greater detail before holding a vote.

Pablo Vengoechea, of Vengoechea and Boyland Architecture, presented the plan, which also included a revised design for a new clubhouse. The clubhouse would be faced in stone veneer, rather than the metal, glass and brick arrangement originally presented, and would have a green roof. The application would include new infill and roof additions to three existing dormitory buildings, which would replicate the existing materials, windows, and proportions.

New six-story residential buildings, called “the flats,” would be clad in brick with a pressed metal cornice, in a design relating to the nearby historic women’s pavilion. New masonry cottages would be built, as would carriage houses based on historic designs, and a brick-and-glass-faced retail building. The Colony’s dining hall and laundry building would be restored to their original conditions. Gatehouses at the complex’s entrances would be partly constructed from salvaged stone.

Additionally, Vengoechea said a photographer would be retained to document the historic structures slated for demolition, to create an archive available for future researchers. An archaeologist would also be on site during the construction period, to identify and preserve any unanticipated discoveries.

Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan recommended approval, and called herself “a fan of this project,” which she said would allow the “fallow” historic district to be put back to use, while retaining a significant amount of historic architecture. Commissioner Fred Bland similarly supported the proposal, noting that district had been seeking a viable development plan for decades. Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron identified the plan’s preservation of green space in the district as a highly commendable aspect of the proposal, but expressed a desire to see more of the dilapidated historic buildings stabilized as ruins. Commissioner Michael Goldblum opined that the plan could be further refined, asking that the district’s history as a working farm be better recalled in the new architecture, and commented that the design of the “flats” was somewhat “generic.” Chair Srinivasan asked the applicants to work with Landmarks staff on the details of the projects in light of commissioner comments, and led unanimous votes to issue positive binding and advisory reports.

LPC: 475 Brielle Ave., Staten Island (16-2300; 16-1601) (Oct. 28, 2014) (Architects: Vengoechea and Boyland Architecture).

By: Jesse Denno (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law).

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