Staten Island to Green, Develop Homeport Navy Base

Five years after Mayor Bloomberg launched a task force on Homeport’s development and three years after the area was rezoned, something sustainable is finally happening at Homeport.

Homeport Staten Island

Opened in 1990 as something of a pork product designed to boost the fortunes of Staten Island’s fraying north shore, Homeport Naval Base was closed just four years later. That left 36 acres of potentially desirable waterfront property — and Homeport’s single 1,410-foot pier — vacant, and Staten Island’s erstwhile “gold coast” just as tarnished as it had been before. The site remained fallow even after ownership reverted to the city in 1995, with a host of Giuliani-administration development plans coming to naught. Now, five years after Mayor Bloomberg launched a task force on Homeport’s development and three years after the area was rezoned, something is finally happening at Homeport.

New Jersey-based Ironstate Development, perhaps best known for reviving (and dialing back the initial grandiosity of) Jersey City’s Port Liberte, has a deal with the city to buy seven acres of Homeport waterfront from the city, Crain’s reported Wednesday. Crain’s put the price paid for that land at “about $11 million,” (the Staten Island Advance has it at $12 million) but that amounts to a small downpayment on what promises to be a $150 million project in which Ironstate will develop 800 rental units, 30,000 square feet of retail space and a public plaza. The city has promised to kick in over $30 million to construct a waterfront esplanade and improve Homeport’s infrastructure, and the site comes the built-in advantage of being near the Staten Island subway’s Stapleton station, which is just three stops from the Staten Island Ferry. Ironstate expects to break ground in 2011 and have apartments available for rent by 2013. The final design, by the Jersey-based architects Minno and Wasko, is still coming into focus — and let gbNYC go on the record here and suggest that this could be a great place for that Wu-Tang Clan Museum, given the group’s Stapleton-area ties — but early indications are that the Homeport development will be surprisingly green.

The entire development plans to pursue LEED for Neighborhood Development status, reports The Architect’s Newspaper’s Matt Chaban, with the two residential buildings also expected to chase as-yet-unspecified green certification. The most interesting green elements of the Homeport development will likely come from the city side, though, via that infrastructure overhaul. As Steve reported back in 2008, the redevelopment will follow the ambitious specs laid out Weidlinger Associates in 2007 — expect innovative stormwater management, permeable pavement and (most intriguingly) an effort to reduce night sky light pollution (so as not to interfere with what promise to be some stunning views). While Staten Island as a whole remains a rare enclave of dense, suburban-y sprawl in the city and numerous other development ideas at this site have floundered due to a lack of funding and political will, Homeport has a chance to become a green development to watch in a borough without many of those. Now let’s get to work on planning that Ghostface Killah Birthplace and Visitor’s Center.

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