National Park Service Will Again Try To Reuse Historic Buildings At Fort Hancock In Gateway National Recreation Area

Gateway National Recreation Area officials, who several years ago thought they had a lessee for historic buildings at Fort Hancock, will try again to find businesses to use the structures. This time, the National Park Service hopes a phased approach for redevelopment of the Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark will succeed.

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.

Now the NRA staff will launch Phase One this fall with hopes of finding businesses that can move into some of the buildings on the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway.

"Our objective is to save historic buildings and to create a newly revived community at Fort Hancock that will serve the needs of the park visitors and the local community," said Jennifer T. Nersesian, park superintendent. "While time is of the essence in saving these buildings, a thoughtful phased approach is the most sustainable in the long run and will guide future rehabilitation."

In this first phase, the park will issue three Requests for Proposals (RFP), with each offering two buildings for adaptive re-use. One RFP will be focused on buildings to be used by not-for-profit organizations; one will seek bids from entities that will operate bed-and-breakfasts, and one will offer buildings for residential use. In addition, the park also plans to invest its own resources in the renovation of one additional officers' row building that would serve as a potential example for the reconstruction process.

A Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) issued last fall yielded 41 formal responses and has helped Gateway devise a map identifying locations for proposed uses in the fort. This phased RFP approach reflects the areas of interest shown in those responses to the RFEI.

"As the co-chair of the Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee, I feel the park's proposed plan will revive Fort Hancock into a viable, vibrant community," said John Reynolds. "This plan creates a rare opportunity to derive a substantial individual benefit, and make an enduring public contribution."

These buildings must be renovated using the Department of Interior Secretary's Standards. You can learn more about these standards at this link: http://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/rehabilitation.com The park is committed to the preservation of cultural resources but will remain vigilant against any threat to its natural and recreational resources.

Comments

The Coast Guard may have threatened progress in the Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark with a recently "discovered" Hurricane Sandy Proposed Recapitalization Project to Rebuild USCG Station Sandy Hook. That plan includes substantial adverse effects in demolishing two contributing structures, and the construction of a new building which will overwhelm the Chem Lab/Schoolhouse, one of only two first order buildings in the District. Comments in response to the Draft Environmental assessment are due by August 30, but the local historic preservation community is just waking up to the threat. Although technical notice was given, none were aware, nor particpated to date in the Section 106 proceeding.