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Fortis Property Group clinches Long Island College Hospital bid

LICH-Ville Estates is coming

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Long Island College Hospital is going condo.

The State University of New York reached a deal to sell the former Cobble Hill Hospital to residential developer Fortis Property Group on Sunday. Fortis plans to build luxury housing in place of the medical center and has pledged to run some healthcare facilities at the site. The university system is glad to wash its hands of the medical center it has been trying to unload since February of 2013, a spokesman said.

“The deal begins the process of easing the tremendous financial burden being shouldered by students and campuses across the state,” said State University of New York rep David Doyle.

Details on the residential plan are scant, but Fortis will partner with New York University Langone Medical Center and Lutheran Healthcare to provide medical services at the complex, including a freestanding emergency department, observation beds, primary and preventative care offices, nine specialty departments, an ambulatory surgery center, and a human immunodeficiency virus clinic. Fortis also agreed to foot the bill for the state keeping the emergency room open in the shell of the hospital, until the developer fully takes over, and agreed to set aside space in the development for more medical services. Fortis refused to sign up for the study of neighborhood medical needs that community groups have called for. Activists had wanted the builder to be bound by the prescription of such a study, but are now calling on the company to take it upon itself to reboot the hospital that closed in May, as the terms of a court-settlement-dictated call for bids says that it should.

“We hope that the highly-regarded healthcare institutions associated with the Fortis proposal will give serious consideration to meeting the RFP goal and community healthcare needs by extending their medical services to include an in-patient hospital,” said a statement by the group Patients for LICH.

The redevelopment scheme will give the firm Fortis Property Group the medical campus with views of the New York Harbor for just $240 million, far less than its estimated $500 million value. A Fortis founder and his uncle, who does not work for the company, donated $17,500 to the reelection campaign of Gov. Cuomo, who controls the university system.

The Fortis deal comes after the state torpedoed talks with two previous developers who scored higher in the bid-ranking scheme created by the settlement in the activists’ lawsuit to keep the hospital open. The arrangement was supposed to favor proposals that included a hospital and maintained continuous medical care at the hospital, but neither third-place Fortis nor second-place Peebles Corporation pitched a hospital and activists sued to have scores thrown out, claiming that the state rigged the results. Judge Johnny Lee Baynes squashed the latest lawsuit on Friday evening, just more than a dozen hours after information surfaced showing that an eyebrow-raising score at the center of the challenge, which gave a full-service hospital plan 0 out of 70 points while awarding the Fortis plan 70 out of 70, was penned by Baynes’s friend and hospital-lawsuit mediator William Thompson, Sr. the father of mayoral also-ran Bill Thompson, as Capital New York reported.

Fortis was the only suitor the state was publicly considering in December, before the lawsuit settlement forced the state to reopen the process.

In February, Mayor DeBlasio hailed the settlement as “a victory for all parties involved.” A spokesman responded to the latest development in less glowing terms, but phrased his comment as if the hospital had not closed.

“A year ago the doors at LICH were on the brink of being padlocked and the entire facility shut down forever,” rep Phil Walzak said. “But as a result of the unified advocacy and activism of the community, closure was prevented, and now there is a proposal on the table that could provide a wide range of medical services at LICH for the tens of thousands of residents in the surrounding Brooklyn neighborho­ods.”

Gov. Cuomo has been silent on his appointees’ shuttering of the hospital, though he has controlled its fate since he took office in 2011. Cuomo has not responded to requests for comment made every weekday since May 15. That is 32 days without a response, for those keeping score at home.

The deal fills the first square — “Politically connected developer seals deal” — in the Bingo-inspired Long Island College Hospital game LICHO, made exclusively for the Community Newspaper Group by our crack team of game wizards. DeBlasio’s offices defense of his record fills a second.

Updated 7:35 pm, June 18, 2014: Updated with comment from Mayor DeBlasio's spokesman.
Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
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Reasonable discourse

Curious from Want to Know says:
I guess this was part of Obamacare?
June 17, 2014, 5:01 am
CarlK says:
Somebody needs to fill in the mayor's press guy Phil Walzak. The "H" in LICH stands for HOSPITAL. Closure was not prevented. The hospital closed on May 22, 2014, after 156 yrs of service to this community. There is no LICH. Reign in the PR spin & stop yanking our chain, Phil. The whole thing stinks. For the record its been 16 months 32 days that Cuomo has been silent on the situation at LICH - the hospital he's been trying to get shut down since he was attorney general
June 17, 2014, 9:31 pm
Not Surprised from Bklyn says:
Hindsight is 20/20. check it out: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/21/a-hospitals-unsettling-state-of-limbo/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&pagewanted=print&_r=1
June 17, 2014, 9:37 pm
REALLY? says:
This is serious. It's a life & death matter for the community. The Brooklyn Paper & the reporters should not be making a joke out of it with LICHO games & comments like "LICH-ville." People have died for lack of LICH ambulances & ER. More will die. Get your tongue out of your cheek & pay attention. Mr Cruz JUST died in Red Hook of an ASTHMA attack. NOBODY dies of an asthma attack anymore. This is blood on Cuomo's hands & it won't be the first. Mr Cruz' kids just had a father's day without their father & the Brooklyn Paper makes jokes. Stupid & insensitive.
June 18, 2014, 12:39 am
REALLY? says:
PS
It's not just 32 days that Cuomo hasn't responded. It's a year & a half. You got into the game late. But what have his opponents Teachout & Astorino had to say? Anything about closing our hospitals or are they as silent on the subject as our esteemed Governor & his buddy our mayor?
June 18, 2014, 12:42 am
Maik Obermuller from Bay Ridge says:
This was a hospital, that lost money for 18 years in a row and was 500 million in Red. No one can be surprised or excited it is now closed. LICH was a money pit and not one NYC hospital came forward to run it as a hospital. NYS got out of LICH because it was losing close to 13 million per month. Who in their right mind would want to come in run it as a hospital and keep loosing money hand over fist.
June 18, 2014, 9:52 am
Kenneth B from Crown Heights says:
The people who the attorney general should look at for possible criminal charges are the LICH Community groups. They helped waste at least 130 million in taxpayer money for the same deal that was struck over a year ago. That is 130 million in our taxpayer money wasted by this bunch.

Former hospital staffer Paul Guzman you too will pay in taxes for this waste and now slander of public officials. Dude get another job already.
June 18, 2014, 2:25 pm
Real American from Brooklyn says:
Maik from Bay Ridge, why should hospitals like LICH be in the business of "making money"?

Aren't there some things in society, like police, prisons, and _yes_ hospitals, that have to be necessary evils and costs?

America's got money to fund radicals in Syria. You'd think the least the gov't could do is save an emergency room or two in Brooklyn
June 18, 2014, 4:56 pm
Maik Obermuller from BR says:
Real America.....This is the real world not a made up world where money does not matter. Do hospitals have to make money? Not make money but be closer to breaking even yes! You are mixing money from Feds with state and even private. A private Hospital which LICH is again private needs to break even or the owners look for ways to cut costs which includes shutting it down. New York State had to sell LICH as it lost 130 million last year alone. NYS which has it's own money problems could not afford to run LICH. I ask, would you have been willing to raise your taxes to pay for LICH? Think long and hard because most people are not willing to do so.
June 19, 2014, 9:45 am
Greg L from Former LICH employee says:
Losing money seemed more like a case of management issues. People still get sick and injured and need hospital services, so there is no lack of patients. Perhaps having the management improved would have been a simpler way to address the problem.
I can't help but think that someday when the population is increased with all those condos dwellers, someone will say, "This is a great neighborhood. The only thing missing is a hospital."
June 19, 2014, 10:15 pm
Real American from Brooklyn says:
Maik, yes I'd rather my tax dollars go to pay for a local emergency room than go to support radicals in Syria. You don't have to raise taxes, just re-allocate them. And I'm not confusing federal and state/local taxation/spending. Just get a congressman/woman with some courage to re-allocate our tax dollars back home and not abroad. Simple as that. That is, if you're a real American.
June 20, 2014, Midnight
Maik Obermuller from BR says:
Real American, Federal money gets voted on in Congress, Senate, then President. Your smoking something good if you think a Brooklyn Congressperson could get money directly for LICH. I served in Army and Navy and yes we have spent way too much money fighting battles over in the Middle East. That money does not translate that if we do not spend it, it can go to LICH. Every single congressperson from Brooklyn to Seattle is trying to get money for their pet projects back home. LICH lost so much money over last 18-19 years it was a lost cause. The only ones who did not realize this are the small group who live around LICH. A Majority of Brooklyn could care less about LICH. Some of Brooklyn is worried about Brookdale, some worried about Interfaith, etc. Brooklyn is battling for their own little cornet hospital which is floundering also.
June 20, 2014, 8:28 am
Real American from Brooklyn says:
Maik, federal money helps local police around the country. Just look at all the new gadgets and tanks small town cops are getting from DHS. The same could be done for local hospitals. Every congressman and woman has access to pork. NYC's congressional delegation could easily put aside some money to save an emergency room or two. Instead they're willing to fund radicals in Syria? Instead of people tossing stones at LICH, they should ask themselves what their own government is doing for them.
June 20, 2014, 10:03 pm
Brooklyn Heights Resident from Brooklyn Heights says:
Pay no attention to Maik Obermuller and his pseudonymous postings. He is obviously working for Fortis or SUNY and repeats the same outrageous lies (with bad spelling, I might add) in many blogs and newspapers.

SUNY and Continuum Health Partners (the LICH owners before SUNY) did everything possible to bring LICH to its financial knees -- from stealing money from LICH's Othmer fund, using a sweetheart deal with Continuum'charging $3 million per month for billing (that it didn't always even do!), to hiring tons of armed/unarmed security guards, stopping all patient services, e.g., procedures and surgeries (which do a little thing like "make" money" and on and on.

The law was broken here many times by SUNY -- any wasted money and future deaths are on their shoulders.
June 23, 2014, 11:28 am

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