Signs of life in LICH bidding

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

A slate of newcomers to the state’s bidding war over the prime real estate Long Island College Hospital sits on are giving Brooklynites a gasping chance at keeping a hospital on the site.

Four of nine healthcare company–developer partnerships that submitted bids in the latest round of proposals to buy the 155-year-old medical facility from the state call for keeping it a hospital, while the others would turn it into apartment complexes with healthcare components, according to the bids, which were made public over the weekend. Community activists who sued the university for attempting to shutter the hosptial have long fought to keep it full service. None have yet endorsed a specific proposal, but having nearly half of the companies in the running agree with the activists’ stated goal is a solid start, one said.

“The four hospital bidders agree with us that LICH is economically viable,” Cobble Hill Association member Jeff Strabone said. “They indicate the fight we waged.”

Trindade Value Partners, a private-equity firm focused on the production of “highly valued” pharmaceuticals, wants to tear down the current Cobble Hill medical buildings and put in a new, 506-bed teaching hospital — as well as a cancer center and a freestanding ambulatory care center — that would be operated by Healthcare Management Partners. Company honchos say Brooklyn has a serious shortage of quality hospital care.

“This is an integrated-care delivery system to meet the needs of the Brooklyn community so they have a legitimate, ultra-modern choice for healthcare in Brooklyn,” said Scott Phillips, managing director for Healthcare Management Partners.

A group called the Brooklyn Health Partners wants to build a new 300- to 400-bed hospital and offer ambulatory care, intensive care, and other medical services during construction of the new facility. The company would also build the Brooklyn Medical District, a campus of medical offices, commercial spaces, and market-rate and below-market-rate housing, according to the plan.

Another California-based hospital management corporation, Prime Healthcare Services, wants to re-open 16 of Long Island College Hospital’s closed operating rooms as part of a hospital that would start off with 100 beds. The company, which operates 25 acute care centers across the nation, would provide surgeries, maternity care, and a host of other inpatient and outpatient services, its plan states. Prime Healthcare lists the State University of New York, which is selling the hospital after fighting for a year to close it, as a client.

The Chinese Community Accountable Care Organization was a bidder in the last round of proposals, which was halted by the lawsuit settlement that reopened bidding and rejiggered the process to favor plans with larger medical components. The organization re-submitted a plan for a full-service hospital that would open with 150 beds and grow to accommodate as many as 250. The plan has the financial backing of former Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis and former deputy mayor Rudy Washington. It also calls for an emergency room and walk-in ambulatory services.

The State University of New York could choose a plan at an April 3 board meeting, a spokesman said. The hospital will close in May if no company steps up to keep it running, according to the terms of the court settlement.

The basics of the five non-hospital plans are as follows*:

The Cuomo-donor plan

Medical provider: New York University Langone Medical Center and Lutheran Family Health Centers

Developer: L&M Development Partners, Fortis Property Group, Full Spectrum NY, LLC, and KF Brock

Medical facilities: Ambulatory surgery center, cancer center

Housing: Rental units, condos, and townhouses, one quarter of them below-market-rate

Measures to retain jobs: Expected to employ about 200 union workers in non-clinical jobs as well as 26 non-physician employees, all of whom will be members of the New York State Nurses Association or Service Employees International Union 1199

Retail: No

Uses existing buildings: Yes

Time to complete: About one year

Fun facts: Fortis Property Group president Joel Kestenbaum gave Gov. Cuomo’s re-election campaign $5,000 last November, while his uncle Moshe — who is not a partner in the firm — gave $12,500 in Jan. 2014. Cuomo, as The Brooklyn Paper has documented, controls the State University of New York, whose representatives effectively have final say in choosing a buyer for the hospital.
The state was considering the Fortis bid alone in December, when university trustees delayed a vote amid cries from hospital advocates to put the brakes on the proceedings until the bidding process was made public and others had a chance to put their hats in the ring.

The developer-only plan

Medical provider: Unknown

Developer: Chetrit Group, FX Fowle

Medical facilities: 100 inpatient beds divided among observation, intensive care, behavioral, and long-term acute care units, as well as an emergency department and community health center

Housing: Apartments, one third of them below-market-rate

Measures to retain jobs: No

Retail: Unclear

Uses existing buildings: Yes

Time to complete: One year

Fun facts: Chetrit Group is one of two developer behind a hot-button, 23-story apartment tower planned for Prospect Lefferts Gardens, as well as the conversion of a former Brooklyn Hospital Center building in Flatbush into a residential complex where, Brownstoner reports, studios will start at $1,999 per month.

The finger-on-the-pulse plan

Medical provider: Unknown

Developer: Lana Acquisitions

Medical facilities: Dialysis center, ambulatory surgery center, family planning department, mental health clinic, nursing home, assisted-living facility

Housing: Unclear

Measures to retain jobs: Will hire Long Island College staffers “whenever possible”

Retail: Unclear

Uses existing buildings: Yes

Time to complete: 12 to 18 months

Fun facts: Lana Acquisitions honcho George Weinberger is chairman of the Board of Trustees of New York Community Hospital in Midwood. His partner is Allen Gross, head of GFI Development Company, which describes itself on its website as a “developer that focuses on opportunistic projects in major metropolitan areas.” GFI was behind the notorious so-called “finger building” in Williamsburg.

The call-in-reinforcements plan

Medical provider: Maimonides Medical Center, North Shore—LIG, ProHEALTH

Developer: Peebles Corporation

Medical facilities: Ambulatory surgery center, multi-specialty offices, and off-site health center in Gowanus or Red Hook

Housing: Yes, but no further details

Measures to retain jobs: $7.5 million for fund to develop new jobs outside of the hospital

Retail: Unclear

Uses existing buildings: Unclear

Time to complete: Unclear

Fun facts: The Peebles Corporation submitted its previous bid with no medical partner. Company head R. Donahue Peebles penned a self-help book called “The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth: How to Make Money in Any Market.”

The other Cuomo-donor plan

Medical provider: The Brooklyn Hospital Center

Developer: Blue Wolf Capital Fund, III, L.P., and Related Companies

Medical facilities: Two off-site health care centers, two urgent care centers

Housing: Some below-market-rate housing

Measures to retain jobs: Would provide preferential hiring to qualified Long Island College Hospital employees for 24 months

Retail: Unclear

Uses existing buildings: Yes

Time to complete: Two to three yearsFun facts: Related Companies founder Stephen Ross gave Gov. Cuomo $5,000 last year. A company spokeswoman has denied that the money was meant to buy favor for its hospital-gutting plan.

*Editor’s note: Our last guide to Long Island College Hospital redevelopment proposals included the category “Emergency room.” Each of the five non-hospital plans claims to include emergency facilities, but emergency rooms are by definition departments of hospitals, so we have removed the category from consideration.

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