Los Sures director of Development Sandy Rozario explained that the historic building at 201 Roebling Street, built in 1916, was originally retrofitted in the early 1990s to house seniors, but there was still much work to be done to fully restore the space to modern standards.
The recent renovations include a community room, updates to apartments and a community garden in a once unusable area of the yard.
A community garden space was also created in what was once a sunken and unusable area of the yard outside the building.
State Assemblyman Joe Lentol secured public funding for part of the project, though he doesn’t technically represent the district where the development is located.
“I was born right around the corner and I lived on South 2ndStreet,” Lentol said. “Harry Gittleson, the state senator used to live here, and I was friends with his son. It was the only building in Williamsburg that had an elevator.”
Lentol said his parents relocated to Greenpoint when the neighborhood began to take a turn for the worse, but he has always considered the area to be his home.
“We talk now about the renaissance of Williamsburg, but before there were any developers interested in Williamsburg, there was still Los Sures,” Lentol said.
Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna, who represented the district for 12 years on the City Council, said that developments like this one are integral to ensuring long-time residents aren’t forced out of their own communities.
“This is such an opportunity to be able to look back and remember what Los Sures was like, and the sweat equity that has been put into this community by so many people in this room,” Reyna said.
Forty percent of the state’s elderly population lives in New York City, and 30 percent of those live in Brooklyn, according to Los Sures’ Executive Director Ramon Peguero.
To ensure that people who have lived their whole lives in South Williamsburg aren’t pushed out by new developments, Los Sures has established several senior affordable housing developments in the area.
“There are 56 families that without this building would either be doubled up with family that really doesn't want them there, in a shelter, or in another country,” Peguero said.
Resident Berta Jimenez said that she was very thankful to all those who had contributed to the restoration of the building she calls home.
“Because of this building and Los Sures, we’re not living in the streets,” Jimenez said.