posted 2012-10-05 23:08:36

Brookdale To Be Demolished in Coming Years

New residence hall option not yet announced 

Carla Sinclair

Contributing Writer

Hunter College has finally succeeded in “swapping” its mid-Manhattan nursing facility and residence hall for land to build a nearby state-of-the-art science building.

At a September press conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city would sell vacated land on East 73rd Street to Hunter College, and leading cancer research treatment group, Memorial Sloan Kettering for $ 215 million, in exchange for Hunter returning its Brookdale Health Campus to the city.

But while developing a new science complex will greatly benefit Hunter’s nursing majors, who are forced to shuttle between the main 68th Street campus and the 25th Street building, many students dorming in two of the complex’s three buildings believe future students may lose an extremely affordable housing option.

Hunter’s Brookdale Health Campus located on East 25th Street, between First Avenue and the FDR Drive, is slated to be vacated in 2015 and will be subsequently demolished, the mayor said at the press conference.

“Brookdale has definitely made college better,” said sophomore Naja Fendal, 19. “It’s helped me make friends and give me a good experience.”

The relocation may hit Macaulay Honors students hardest, as free priority housing is one of the perks the program has that attracts applicants.

“Part of the reason people apply and go to Macaulay opposed to a private school is the free housing,” said Becky Brook, 18, a freshman accepted into the Honors program.

So far, the Honors College has not announced alternate housing opportunities to replace Brookdale. Brookdale isn’t the only housing Hunter offers, but is the most affordable.

Other housing options at the 92nd Street Y and 97th Street are available to college students citywide, but cost $6,000 more, on average, to Brookdale’s current housing rates.

Brookdale is currently home to 662 residents, a majority of whom are part of Hunter’s honors college.

“I’m paying for my housing myself, and I wouldn’t be able to afford that much more,” said Daniela Talmadge, 17, and a freshman. “Dorming is just so convenient. The commute from South Brooklyn was bad.”

But CUNY colleges that are self-proclaimed commuter schools continue to attract many students because of their easy access, which permit students to continue their lives in the city while attending an accredited university. However, for students who commuted from Westchester, Long Island, or out of the five boroughs, Brookdale’s affordable rates made taking classes at Hunter possible.

“If I didn’t have the option of housing, I’d have to leave Hunter,” said Fendal, who is from upstate. “Housing in New York City is just too expensive.”

“Hunter doesn’t normally give the college experience, which is good for a lot of things,” said senior David Boniella, 21. “It gives you a higher chance to build your community. A higher chance to be a part of a diverse community.”

Brooklyn College, Baruch College, City College and Lehman College are other CUNY schools that provide housing options exclusively for their students.

“I moved here from the St. Mary’s residence, and Brookdale definitely helped me make friends that are actually my own age,” said Maureen Varughese, 19, a sophomore. “It’s definitely been a better experience here.”

“It’s convenient, the bottom line. It contributes to the college experience.” said Boniella. “Living and commuting with kids you go to school with, the city becomes your campus.”

In exchange for an opportunity to redefine it’s science facilities, ownership of the block-long facility overlooking the East River, valued at $180 million dollars, will revert to the city. A city sanitation parking garage, and residential developments may be built on the site, said Bloomberg at a press conference.

In 2008 Hunter College anticipated exchanging its Brookdale campus for a new science complex at the Julia Richards High School, but the deal fell through after vocal community opposition.