sea-view-bulletin-nyc-untapped-citiesPhoto courtesy of NYCEDC

The New York City Economic Development Corp (NYCEDC) and Borough President James Oddo recently announced the city’s first planned Wellness Community in Staten Island. The Old Sea View Hospital was once the largest and most renown tuberculosis sanatoriums in the country, which later included facilities for the mentally ill and cholera patients. Upon completion, this Health Community will be the first publicly planned and funded mixed-use health development of its kind in the country. Parts of the old Sea View Hospital and the neighboring Farm Colony have stood in a state of semi-abandonment for decades. Now, with help from the City, Staten Island will become a much healthier place it deserves to be. 

Sea-View-Rendering-staten-island-nycRendering of the proposed project. Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

Staten Island Borough President James Oddo exclaimed during the announcement in front of the Lane Park facility that “Today marks a tangible step forward and demonstrable proof that we have moved from what was once merely a vision crafted when I got to Borough Hall in 2014 to a priority project for the de Blasio Administration. This community of care is going to happen, and Staten Island will be a much healthier place because if it.”

Sea-View-map-NYC-Untapped_CitiesPhoto courtesy of NYCEDC

To give you a sense of the Sea View campus, here’s some history behind the place. The Old Sea View Hospital, consisting of 37 buildings planned and developed between 1905 and 1938 was in its heyday one of the premier tuberculosis sanatoriums in the country offering light, ventilation, outdoor access, and thought towards medical operation efficiency, all which at the time reflected the latest thoughts in proper tuberculosis treatment before a proper cure was discovered. Use gradually decreased in the 1950s when a cure was discovered. While most of it continues to stand abandoned, a few organizations do run a few operations there including the Camelot Rehab Center, a volunteer firefighting organization, and volunteer ambulance service.

staten-island-ballet-pathology-laboratory-sea-view-hospital-nycThe Pathology Laboratory is now the offices of the Staten Island Ballet

sea-view-camelot-nyc-untapped-citiesThe former Dining Hall, Kitchen, Service and Bakery Building from 1914 is now the Camelot, a counseling and living recovery program for young men battling substance abuse. Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

Today, the Sea View property is still managed by the City. Renovation projects like that of the nurse’s quarters is now Park Lane at Sea View, a senior living facility run by Domain Companies. The Children’s Hospital, the last of the tuberculosis buildings built in 1935-1937 is a popular destination for film locations. Sea View as a whole is quite popular for filming, the environment really lends itself to it, contributing to  chill factor in shows like Gotham and Boardwalk Empire.

Abandoned-Sea-View-Hospital-Buildings-Staten-Island-NYC-010The abandoned Children’s Hospital

Built atop the former 25-acre hilltop estate of Charles Schmidt, the hospital offered an “Ocean View,” an attempt to create a calming environment for patients. The neighboring Staten Island Farm Colony, opened in 1902 as housing for the city’s indigent population in exchange for labor. Collective farmhouses rehabilitated the city’s aging poor until they were replaced by dormitories. It merged with the hospital in 1915, collectively known as Seaview Farms. At its peak in the 1940s, 1,700 people lived there. Once the adoption of governmental services like Social Security programs were adopted, the Colony reduced its numbers in 1975 and sent the remaining patients off to Sea View Hospital.

Sea-View-Hospital-Abandoned-Tunnels-Buildings-Staten-Island-NYC-007Remains of the octagonal kitchen at the hospital

As one of the most storied locations in New York, the Staten Island Farm Colony across the street from Sea View is continually broken into by adventurers for photo opportunities, and has even become a playground for teenagers. But, Untapped Cities was allowed an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the grounds led by the Vice President of NYCEDC in charge of the site. Our goal was to bring New Yorkers into this place to tell the story of its past, present and challenges/projects for the future. Check out some of the photos from our tour.

Farm-Colony-Landmark-Colony-Staten-Island-NYCEDC-Untapped-Cities-Tour-001The Farm Colony

Sea View Hospital will continue its adaptive reuse of historic buildings, a process that has a precedent here. The new project will focus on community health, “and what better place to build it than the Sea View campus, which pioneered a holistic approach to healthcare for previous generations of New Yorkers. This extraordinary project will improve the quality of life for thousands of Staten Islanders, and keep New York City as a national leader in pioneering approaches to public health.” says NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer.

sea-view-old-building-nyc-untapped-citiesSea View Tuberculosis Pavilion. Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

With a total of 90-acres, the new Sea View campus will integrate active design and healthy lifestyle options into the planning framework to improve access to physical activity, healthy foods, social engagement and healthy environments through medical, residential, and retail uses. New medical office space will add and improve to the existing Camelot and Grace Foundation facilities, while community farms and health food grocers, and farm-to-table cafes and restaurants will promote health lifestyles among the residents and visitors. Community areas and open spaces will have facilities and green spaces for hiking and biking, and the residential areas will serve as much needed housing for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Sea-View-rose-garden-pavillions-walk-way-nyc-untapped-citiesPhoto courtesy of NYCEDC

Sea-View-Administration-Building-nyc-untapped-citiesPhoto courtesy of NYCEDC

Many of the existing structures are New York City Landmarks so there will be examinations made to see how to incorporate the structures into the new plans. Half of the funds for these examinations and overall feasibility study will be provided by NYC Health + Hospitals. Dr. Ram Raju President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals says “We are pleased to work with the Borough President and the EDC to build a healthier Staten Island. We fully support this ambitious plan to address the needs of growing senior population and special needs children, which will supplement the care and services we deliver at NYC Health + Hospitals/Sea View, our five star nursing facility on the campus. This ambitious plan aligns with our resident-centered approach to care for our long-term care patients, fostering a greater sense of community.”

sea-view-audience-nyc-untapped-citiesRam Raju speaking at the formal announcement. Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

While the plans are just beginning to come into fruition, it is important to note that the NYCEDC, Staten Island, and NYC Health + Hospitals along with the rest of New York are committed to creating holistic solutions to address chronic, non-communicable diseases as the City is has committed to make capital funds available to support infrastructure investments within the campus. The plan for a healthier Staten Island is under way, and we are excited to see the changes that will be happening within the next few years.

As this project slowly comes underway, take a look inside the semi-abandoned Sea View Hospital tunnels while they’re still there and the rest of the abandoned buildings