Would-be LICH developer faces May 4 deadline

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

Long Island College Hospital could be handed over to a developer that has no plans to keep it a hospital if the company currently on tap to take over does not get its finances in order by May 4.

Brooklyn Health Partners, a group created to bid for the 156-year-old Cobble Hill institution, beat out eight other developer–medical company partnerships that applied to buy the hospital and turn it into some combination of housing and medical facilities. The company must put down $25 million of the $250 million it said it would pony up for the medical complex by May 4, or else the State University of New York will call off the deal and begin negotiating with 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, while three other pitches called for hospitals.

The state predicts that Brooklyn Health Partners will not get certifications in time to keep the hospital from closing on May 23, when state managers say they will walk away entirely, but anti-closure activists are upbeat about the prospects of the down-payment coming through and the hospital staying open.

“We remain hopeful BHP will fulfill its promise to run a bridge facility to continue current medical services at LICH and successfully close the transaction, ensuring the long-term presence of a hospital on the LICH campus,” said lawyer Jim Walden, who represented six community groups in a lawsuit challenging the state’s move to close the hospital.

Peebles head Don Peebles has political ties to State University of New York chairman H. Carl McCall, Crain’s New York Business first reported.

If the Peebles deal also fell apart, the medical campus would go to Fortis Property Group, a developer which also called for shuttering the hospital and building housing in its place, and which also has ties to Long Island College Hospital’s current management.

A Fortis Property Group founder and his uncle, who does not work for the company, donated $17,500 to the re-election campaign of Gov. Cuomo, who controls the State University of New York.

In addition to the $25 million Brooklyn Health Partners must pay by next week, the developer must have its purchase agreement with the state approved by the Department of Buildings and the state attorney general and comptroller, according to Walden.

The developer plans to establish a temporary, 150-bed hospital while it builds a new 300–400-bed facility on the medical campus along with 1,000 apartments, which, according to Crain’s, could be housed in 50-story towers.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Survivor: Attorney Jim Walden is not buying the state's ominous warning about the hospital-saving deal falling apart.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham