No money and ongoing deterioration of turn-of-the-century military quarters have Gateway National Recreation Area officials searching for someone to rehabilitate some of the buildings at Fort Hancock.
This is not the first time the National Park Service sought help in saving the Officer's Quarters that stand in the Sandy Hook Unit of the NRA. A few years ago the agency thought it had found a savior in Sandy Hook Partners, LLC, a company that envisioned transforming some of the buildings into restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts. But that vision evaporated four years ago when the Park Service determined the LLC didn't have the financial resources to pull off the $70 million-$90 million project.
Last year a committee was formed to find a way to save the structures.
"I don't think that many of the buildings at Fort Hancock will be around much longer if we don't find a use for them and someone to take care of them," Linda Cananelli, then Gateway's superintendent, told the Fort Hancock 21st Century Federal Advisory Committee during a meeting back in January. "We have mothballed the buildings to make them weather-tight, but that only goes so far.
"For some of the beautiful buildings, including my favorite, the Officer's Club, it may already be too late."
This week the Park Service, in cooperation with the committee, issued a solicititation of interest from any organizations, groups, or businesses interested in redeveloping the historic structures. The "Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI)" asked for plans that would transform the use of historic buildings and invest in park resources.
"Adaptive reuse of historic buildings would bring us one step closer to saving Fort Hancock's historic landscape. Fort Hancock's buildings have survived for over a century, including most recently Hurricane Sandy. Once restored, they will continue to offer recreational, cultural and educational opportunities," a park release announcing the solicitation said.
"The Advisory Committee Members share a commitment to helping the park identify creative and visionary choices for the future use of this magnificent site," said Gerald Glaser, co-chair of the Federal Advisory Committee. "We feel that this is a terrific time and place for the right entrepreneurs to preserve these buildings and the community that we all love."
"The National Park Service is looking for the right partner(s) to join us and envision a new beginning for these important historic structures," stated Acting Superintendent Suzanne McCarthy. "We believe that this is a wonderful opportunity for the rebirth of Fort Hancock and look forward to an exciting future.,"
The RFEI, which you can find here, has a 5 p.m. submissions deadline on December 16. Individuals, governmental agencies, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations are welcome to submit proposals. All legal uses will be considered, the Park Service said.
Interested respondents can submit questions to FortHancock21stCentury@yahoo.com.
Fort Hancock is located at the tip of Sandy Hook at the entrance to the lower New York Harbor, and played a major role in the harbor defense of New York City. British and Loyalist troops occupied Sandy Hook during the American Revolution, and the location was again fortified during the War of 1812 and in the years prior to the American Civil War. Fort Hancock, a permanent fort, was established in 1895 and operated until it was deactivated in 1974.