LICH bidder claims state sabotage

News analysis: If LICH closes, housing towers could rise
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The developer in talks to take over Long Island College Hospital says it will only hand over the down payment that is due today with a judge watching because the state is trying to sabotage the handoff.

Brooklyn Health Partners will present the $25-million chunk of change to a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge today, according to a spokeswoman for the company. The would-be hospital operator, which plans to keep the hospital a hospital while building 1,000 apartments on the premises, does not trust the State University of New York to operate on the up-and-up unless the long arms of the law force it to, the spokeswoman said.

“BHP’s lawyers are skeptical that SUNY wants a full-service hospital on the LICH campus and do not believe it will negotiate in good faith unless directed to do so by the court,” spokeswoman Donnette Dunbar said.

Brooklyn Health Partners will also present Judge Johnny Lee Baynes with contracts from an outside medical team that has the licenses to offer stopgap medical services at the hospital starting on May 22 — when the state is set to close the hospital at 7 am — until the bidder can open a temporary, 150-bed facility on the campus. The winning bidder’s plan calls for eventually building a 300–400-bed hospital in place of the old healthcare facility. Brooklyn Heath Partners will also show that it has the financial backing to make good on its promise of a full-service hospital and all of the other documents that the state has requested in order to close the deal, Dunbar said.

Brooklyn Health Partners filed a complaint with the Brooklyn Supreme Court last week, arguing that the university has tried to torpedo talks from the start and has repeatedly tried to impose arbitrary deadlines and requirements on the transfer process. The university failed to provide the company with a draft of a lease for the temporary hospital facility and also announced that it is considering other redevelopment proposals for the hospital, according to the complaint, which Brooklyn Health Partners withdrew on Friday when Judge Baynes told the company that the injunction was premature.

If the Brooklyn Health Partners deal disintegrates, control of the 156-year-old Cobble Hill hospital that sits on land valued at as much as $500 million will go to the Peebles Corporation, the bidder that scored second-highest in a court-mandated process that was supposed to give extra weight to proposals that retained a hospital on the site. The Peebles plan calls for dismantling the hospital and replacing it with an unspecified amount of housing along with an ambulatory surgery center and doctors offices. Three other takeover pitches of the nine filed called for maintaining hospitals on the site.

A spokesman for the State University of New York declined to comment.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.