Dyker Heights

Neighbors demand senior housing at Angel Guardian site

Dyker Heights facility has closed its doors

October 12, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The approximately 140,000-square-foot, blocklong property is located at 6301 12th Ave. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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A sprawling piece of property in Dyker Heights where kindhearted Catholic nuns ran an orphanage for more than 80 years should be turned into housing for senior citizens, according to neighbors living in the vicinity who have formed an advocacy group to promote the idea.

The group Guardians of the Guardian will hold its first public meeting on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Regina Conference Center, 1210 65th St. at 11 a.m. to discuss the future of the property at 6301 12th Ave.

The site housed the Angel Guardian Home, an orphanage operated by the Sisters of Mercy, for decades. The Sisters established the orphanage in 1899 and found homes for thousands of children over the years. The orphanage closed in the 1970s. A few years ago, MercyFirst, a nonprofit organization, moved onto the property.

MercyFirst operated a foster care program from the site, sharing space with the Narrows Senior Center, a program sponsored by Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, the charitable arm of the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

But now MercyFirst has moved out of the Angel Guardian site.

The Guardians of the Guardian are envisioning turning the property’s stately 100-year-old building and luscious green space into a “multistage senior housing complex” for area residents who would like to “retire-in-place,” Frank Grassi, a leader of the group, told the Brooklyn Eagle via email. 

“There is a dire need in Brooklyn for a senior residence of this type,” Grassi said.

The Guardians group is organizing a letter-writing campaign to generate community support for the idea of a comprehensive senior residence at the Angel Guardian site. Letters will be sent to elected officials and to Community Board 10.

The fate of the property is still up in the air.

Earlier this year, BrooklynDaily.com reported that the Sisters of Mercy planned to sell the property, which is approximately the size of three football fields, to Catholic Charities.

The Progress of Peoples Development Corporation (CCPOP), the real estate component of Catholic Charities, was looking into the possibility of converting the property into housing for low-income senior citizens. But CCPOP officials later decided not to move ahead with the purchase.

“CCPOP recently informed the Sisters of Mercy that it could not proceed with the transaction. It was very difficult to arrive at this decision. After a financial analysis that took into consideration the uncertainties regarding the availability of low-income tax credits and other government subsidies for the future development of low-income housing, CCPOP determined that the project was not viable. We thank the Sisters of Mercy for the opportunity to explore this transaction and wish them success in finding a suitable buyer,” Catholic Charities said in a statement

In recent weeks, there has also been talk of opening a school at the site.

The New York City Department of Education is reportedly negotiating with the Sisters of Mercy for the sale of all or a portion of the property.

Local education officials said a new school would be a great idea because it would relieve overcrowding at nearby schools such as P.S. 176 at 1229 Bay Ridge Ave. and P.S. 310 at 942 62nd St.

On Sept. 22, the Sisters of Mercy officially closed the site following a Mercy Day celebration.

The Tablet reported that the staff of MercyFirst joined the Sisters of Mercy for the closing ceremony, which featured participants sharing stories about the facility’s history.

Following a service in the chapel, all of the participants marched out in a procession. The last three people in the procession were three nuns from the Sisters of Mercy who work at MercyFirst, according to the Tablet, which reported that they had the honor of closing the doors one last time.

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