Can New Ventures Help Save Historic Fort Hancock Buildings At Gateway National Recreation Area?

Gateway National Recreation Area officials are taking another stab at turning historic buildings at Fort Hancock into business ventures that can prevent futher deterioration of the structures.

Using the buildings on Officers' Row as bed-and-breakfasts, headquarters for non-profit organizations, and other businesses has been discussed before. A few years ago the Park Service thought it had found a savior in Sandy Hook Partners, LLC, a company that envisioned turning some of the buildings into restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts. But that vision evaporated when the Park Service determined the LLC didn't have the financial resources to pull off the $70 million-$90 million project.

Recently, the Park Service put out a request for new uses for the buildings, and received 39 responses.

"We are very excited to receive such a large number of new and diverse ideas on how to adaptively reuse these century-old buildings," said Superintendent Jennifer Nersesian. "With the Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee, the park can focus on preserving these wonderful buildings so that a rehabilitated Fort Hancock can provide another century of service to the community."

Responses suggest a variety of uses for the historic buildings from those who are interested in rehabilitating former officer family quarters for personal use or as small "bed-and-breakfasts" to not-for-profits and businesses wishing to enhance visitor service at the park. The proposals will be placed online at this site over the next couple of weeks.

"The National Park Service has learned a great deal from the last effort to rehabilitate Fort Hancock," said Superintendent Nersesian, "and we continue to learn by being open and by listening to the community."

The park will discuss next steps at the January meeting of the Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee, including a possible Request for Proposals. The meeting will take place Friday, January 10, at the Sandy Hook Chapel, beginning at 9 a.m. The meeting is open to the public and a public comment period will take place at 1 p.m.

Fort Hancock is located at the tip of Sandy Hook at the entrance to the lower New York Harbor, and long 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 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.