Sections

SUNY trustees backed off considering a bid by Fortis Property Group to turn Long Island College Hospital into condos

State to DeBlasio: You want LICH? You can have it

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The state is willing to hand over the keys to Long Island College Hospital rather than turning it into condos, State University of New York officials announced at a Tuesday meeting.

University board members were scheduled to vote on a whether to consider a bid to convert the hospital that sits on land valued at $500-million into a luxury condominium complex with an urgent care center, but delayed the decision, offering to let mayor-elect Bill DeBlasio’s city government take over the hospital instead. Advocates for keeping the 155-year-old institution open say the move is a big win.

“We are stunned,” said Jeff Strabone, a member of the Cobble Hill Association and anti-closure activist. “This is a victory.”

Members of the board of trustees for the state university, which runs the hospital and has been trying to shutter it since February, said at Tuesday’s meeting that they were uneasy about the actions the state had taken to close the hospital despite court orders barring such maneuvers. One said he went along with the moves, but only because he did not want to make waves, and that now he is having second thoughts.

“I’m not exceedingly confident with the direction we’ve taken at many points, and at many points I feel I had supported this for the greater sake of SUNY — which is, of course, our greater allegiance,” a board member said at the meeting. “I really need to be confident that the advice and council we’re getting is the right one, and right now I don’t see enough to say that.”

In an about-face from the state’s strategy up to this point, the board now says it wants to see if DeBlasio will order the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation to take over before it continues talks with a private buyer.

DeBlasio backed the anti-closure effort as public advocate during his mayoral campaign, going so far as to get arrested for the cause. Hospital lovers say that the state’s proposal for a city takeover is a viable solution and all it would take is the mayor-to-be acting on his commitment.

“Bill DeBlasio ran on the hospital, he wants a moratorium on hospital closures, and we look forward to him fulfilling his promise,” Strabone said.

The bid that was being considered came from the developer Fortis Property Group, which pitched a plan to tear down the hospital and build a condo complex that would include a so-called “medical mall,” featuring an urgent care center, dentist offices, and surgery facilities, but no emergency room. It was one of the state’s favored proposals among a still-secret number of others. A sale would not erase the debt the state has racked up while running the hospital, the board said.

No takeover proposals came from in-state hospitals, according to the university board.

The state is still facing a court hearing on Jan. 21 to decide whether its repeated moves to close the hospital merit fines. Activists have called for officials to be jailed for their handling of the hospital.

A state spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at jlutz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 10:12 am, December 23, 2013: Updated lead to add clarity.
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Reasonable discourse

Confused from Want to Know says:
Can't Obamacare save the hospital?
Dec. 18, 2013, 5:51 am
Clarke says:
About time those Trustees woke up & acted responsibly in their roles rather than just rubber stamping everything the chiefs want. I wager that being held personally responsible & being served for contempt along with those chiefs had something to do with their sudden consciousness to the mess that has orchestrated here.
Dec. 18, 2013, 5:45 pm
Clarke says:
It seems to me there are other options besides selling to Kestenbaum for condo development or handing LICH off to the city. How about writing another RFP that is specific for a full hospital as the local elected officials have called for? Then if there are no responses, the option for a city take over can be explored. I don't believe SUNY's claim that there were no takers. We have only their word on that & they have been proven to have lied over & over all year on the LICH issue. Case in point reported by the Brooklyn heights Blog: At the SUNY meeting in November, H Carl McCall told a NY1 reporter that they were considering a proposal to turn LICH into condos & that was in her TV report - but on camera moments later McCall told the public at the hearing that there was no plan to sell for real estate development.
So sorry. I need more than McCall & SUNY's word on anything about LICH.
Dec. 18, 2013, 5:52 pm
resident from Cobble Hill says:
A city take over of the hospital would take it from a zero institution, to a sub-zero institution.

A reminder that our goverment fails not only at goverment, but everything else they have ever done. Costs would rise, quality would drop, chaos would grow.

If Strabone wants a city run hospital, then I guess he wants all the riff-raff that will come with it. As if having a hospital institution in an all residential neighborhood wasn't bad enough, a city run institution would be like putting a "BIG SPITTOON" in the middle of Cobble Hill.

A city run institution - worst idea ever!
Jan. 3, 2014, 11:19 am

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