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SUNY Pulls Condo Proposal for Long Island College Hospital

By Nikhita Venugopal | December 17, 2013 6:58pm
 Long Island College Hospital at 339 Hicks St., in Cobble Hill.
Long Island College Hospital at 339 Hicks St., in Cobble Hill.
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University Hospital of Brooklyn

MIDTOWN — State University of New York officials have dropped a plan that would turn Long Island College Hospital into condos with an urgent care center in the wake of local opposition.

Fortis Property Group, a Brooklyn-based real estate firm, had hoped to buy the hospital property and create a “medical multi-specialty facility” and lease most of the main building to ProHEALTH, and other health care providers, to operate an urgent care center, a fitness center and other non-hospital facilities.

The other structures would be turned into condominiums.

“It’s very clear that the proposal that was put before us would not have the support of the community,” H. Carl McCall, chairman of the university trustees, said Tuesday evening at a university board meeting at SUNY's College of Optometry.

SUNY board members, including McCall, were concerned the proposal did not constitute a real answer for the struggling hospital. 

“We really don’t have a solution,” said McCall.

The proposal to begin negotiations with Fortis, which may have led to a signed contract, was approved by SUNY’s special academic medical and hospital committee, but soon after was tabled by the executive committee.

Fortis’s proposal for LICH received the highest score among seven offers to operate the hospital that were submitted during a “Request for Proposals” period.

While McCall said the board would reconvene next month and possibly consider other lesser-scoring proposals, none of which advocated a full-service hospital, he strongly hinted that the city, under Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, should run it.

“I would love to meet with [de Blasio] and give him the keys to the hospital,” McCall said.

De Blasio, who has been a vocal supporter of keeping the hospital open, issued a statement on Tuesday promising to “continue to fight any plan that fails to provide critical health care for surrounding neighborhoods."

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation did not submit a proposal to operate LICH.

SUNY is losing $13 million each month through LICH. If those loses continue, it could result in campus closures and increases in tuition, officials said.

“That’s a terrible prospect, but that’s what can happen if we continue to operate this hospital with the tremendous losses it is imposing on us,” McCall said.

LICH supporters, who strongly opposed the redevelopment plan, celebrated SUNY’s decision.

“We’ve been fighting to keep this a hospital,” said nurse Carmen De La Rosa. “Not a residential area with a hospital.”