Cabrini Seniors Stunned by Looming Closure

DSC08883Suzanne Rozdeba Dorothy Rasenberger, Elizabeth Herring, and Joy Garland protested outside of the Cabrini Center this afternoon.

The staff of the Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation were still breaking the news to elderly residents that their home on Avenue B and East Fifth Street would soon close, leaving some of them in tears, a family member of a resident said today.

While the meeting regarding the closure was going on, a small group of protesters outside toted signs saying “Occupy Cabrini!” and “Save Cabrini! From Condos.” The mix of around 10 locals and family members of residents decried the failure of the new owner of the property, Benjamin Shaoul, to secure a deal to keep it open. They also blamed local politicians for not doing enough to facilitate the negotiations. Without the deal, Cabrini will almost certainly become apartments of some kind.

“My mother turned 101 on Feb. 1, and she’s been here for two years. It’s a shame,” said George Matranga, 70. “Six months ago, she’s telling me that they’re going to make the second and third floor condominiums. I’m going, ‘Mom, you’re hallucinating.’”

He added that he received a packet last week detailing the closing and how Cabrini would help residents with the transition.

The center’s administration is currently in negotiations to move its beds to another nursing home in Borough Park — but that didn’t sit well with Mr. Matranga.

“My mom came from the neighborhood. She grew up here before they built Stuyvesant Town — she lived here all her life,” he said. “I don’t like Brooklyn, no offense.”

Mr. Shaoul, whose company Magnum Realty Group bought the building at Avenue B and East Fifth Street late last year, has said he expects to start renovating the building in the summer after the center closes.

“There were people who were crying and in shock at the family meeting today,” said Elizabeth Herring, 53, whose 82-year-old father, Rafael Osorio, has dementia. She was unsure how she would explain to her father that he would have to leave his home for the last six years.

Cabrini staff would break the news to a new group of seniors and their families tonight at 6 p.m., Ms. Herring added.