With whispers that the Shirley Chisholm State Office Building, located at 55 Hanson Place, is being put up for sale to an unnamed buyer, two local state lawmakers have vowed to keep it open.
The 100-year-old, 13-story building currently houses several agencies including the Office of Children and Family Services and the Department of Taxation.
The rumors of the sale started after the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) recently contacted state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery and asked her questions about the building’s use and if she would consider supporting its sale. Montgomery, whose district office is in the YWCA Building on Atlantic and Third Avenues, told ESDC officials she opposes the sale.
“It does not make any sense at all for them to be thinking about closing the State Office Building at one of the best transportation hubs in New York City,” said Jim Vogel, spokesperson for Montgomery.
Vogel explained that the only two other state office buildings in the area are in Harlem and Hauppauge, Long Island, which is at the tip of the island.
“So closing a state office building near a transportation hub, if unintentionally, is discriminatory against lower-income folks who don’t have cars or the time to be navigating to these other office buildings in order to get help,” he said.
But an ESDC spokesperson official denied the building is up for sale.
“We are still in the planning stages for the downstate region and while the building in question is not currently for sale, a broader strategy for both owned and leased space in New York City is being discussed,” said ESDC spokesman Austin Shafran.
Shafran said the ESDC is looking at the building as part of the Cuomo Administration’s ongoing effort to re-imagine state government operations.
“We have been developing a strategy to manage all of our real estate assets statewide. Our goal is to maximize the use of space, minimize costs and achieve significant savings for taxpayers,” he said.
Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who has his district office in the building, said the people of Brooklyn deserve a state office building and the most appropriate place for it to be located is at its current location in Ft.Greene.
“The Ft. Greene location provides access to the large mass transportation hub in the borough and for mixed people from all corners of Kings County including Bed- Stuy, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Brownsville to get access to their state government,” said Jeffries.
“We have made clear to the ESDC that under no uncertain terms we strongly oppose the sale of the state office building,” he added.