After much community and political uproar, plans to lease government land at the St. Albans Veterans campus to a private developer have been halted as the Enhanced Use Lease process (EUL) has been stopped.
A statement by the Department of Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System said, “After careful review, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has decided to discontinue efforts to lease property at the St. Albans Community Living Center for commercial purposes.”
“[This] will prevent the fabric of my community from being destroyed by the creation of high-density residential and retail developments,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks, who had written a bill – which passed the House of Representatives – to block the EUL.
The Veterans Administration selected St. Albans Village LLC from a pool of four after a Request for Proposals (RFP) in April 2008 to develop the 55-acre site, with an up to 75-year lease.
St. Albans Village LLC, as a development team, consists of D&F Development Group; GGT Development Group, with which Reverend Edwin Reed is associated; and Holland Horizon.
Peter Florey, principal with D&F, explained to The Courier at the time that the project consisted of two elements: the health care of veterans and a new community, low-density, park-like setting.
A statement from St. Albans Village, LLC reads, “We, Edwin Reed – GGT Development LLC, Peter Florey & Lenny D’Amico – D&F Development LLC and Joe Holland – Holland Horizon Development LLC, are disappointed that a range of factors have prevented the Veteran’s Administration from moving forward at this point with the St. Albans Village redevelopment plan, which was designed to significantly improve health care for veterans in a timely, effective, responsible and cost-effective manner. We would like to thank the team at the Veteran’s Administration in Washington and New York for their commitment to this project, and their drive to provide the investment necessary for quality programs and services that really benefit our veterans and their families and would serve them through the turn of the century.
“As community based developers, we firmly believe in the need for modern health care for our veterans, and look forward to working with elected officials, veterans, broad-based community leaders and others to make that possible.”
Jennifer Sammartino, Public Affairs Officer for the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, which St. Alban’s Community Living Center is a part of, said that “We are going to provide the same health care to our veterans at St. Albans, including Community Living Center services, primary and specialty care and residential psycho-social rehabilitation.”
Sammartino stressed to The Courier that there will be no change in services at St. Albans to the 4,000 people served on an outpatient basis through clinics; the 179 in domiciliary; and the 174 in the Community Living Center.
“We can move forward and concentrate on what’s important – serving the veterans,” she said.