After decades of sporadic efforts, ground was finally broken Thursday for a $150 million redevelopment of the old Navy base near the ferry terminal. It is the first of three big projects—including a towering Ferris wheel that is underway.
After more than two decades of aborted plans, and four years after the city first announced the latest project for the site, ground was finally broken Thursday for a mixed-use development on the site of Staten Island’s long-ago decommissioned U.S. Naval base.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, and City Council member Debbie Rose were among those who spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony for a parcel of the Homeport base in the Stapleton section on the island’s north shore, a short walk from the ferry terminal.
Mr. Molinaro hailed the development, the first of several projects slated for the waterfront, as the start of the area’s revitalization. In a few years, he predicted: “You will not recognize the north shore.”
New Jersey-based Ironstate Development will spend $150 million to build a LEED-certified residential and retail project. The project will consist of two buildings with a total of 900 market-rate apartments, 30,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, and 600 parking spaces.
“This is going to be something that will make Staten Island proud,” said David Barry, president of Ironstate. “Everybody has recognized the importance of doing something great on this site.”
The city will also spend $32 million on the site for infrastructure developments and a waterfront esplanade that will offer public access.
The project will be built to comply with new flood-readiness recommendations in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Mr. Barry emphasized.
“We’re very confident in this project to withstand any storms that may come of the caliber of Sandy,” he said.
In fact, the development will be 2 feet higher than originally designed, and will incorporate additional generators, he said. The project will take about two years to complete.
Homeport is the first of several developments slated for the north shore. The others include a 62-story Ferris wheel—the world’s largest—and the city’s first outlet mall, which is expected to boast 350,000 square feet of shops. Taken together, the projects are expected to bring new luster to the island’s somewhat woebegone image.
“I think it’s going to be the start of the whole north shore Staten Island revitalization,” said Cesar Claro, chief executive of the Staten Island Economic Development Corp. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Ironstate bought the site from the city in 2011, two years after the project was announced and eight years after a task force first convened to redevelop the waterfront. The site had been inactive since the Homeport naval base closed in 1995.