By Mary Frost
John Catsimatidis, owner and CEO of the Red Apple Group and Gristedes Foods, has submitted a proposal to the State University of New York (SUNY) which would develop Long Island College Hospital (LICH) as a smaller, but full-service hospital side-by-side with ambulatory medical services and commercial, retail and residential facilities.
Catsimatides would be joined by Rudy Washington, a private real estate developer who worked with John Lhota in the Giuliani Administration.
The Catsimatides proposal is the only one of five under consideration by SUNY that would continue hospital services at the 155-year-old Cobble Hill institution.
In it, the developers would partner with The Chinese Community Accountable Care Organization (CCACO) in collaboration with the Eastern Chinese American Physician IPA (ECAP) groups. CCACO describes it self as “a physician-owned and operated accountable care organization” which is geared towards meeting the needs of the Chinese community.
LICH, in Cobble Hill, is “the epicenter of the two main Chinese communities in New York City — Chinatown right across the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park,” said one LICH doctor.
SUNY, which has been trying to sell LICH for more than a year despite numerous lawsuits and almost non-stop protests, had given a handful of the original bidders five days to change their proposals in a much-disputed Request for Proposals (RFP) process.
The other four proposals, submitted by major developers including Fortis Property Group, Brisa Builders Corporation, Related Cos., and The Peebles Corporation, call for closing the 155-year-old hospital and redeveloping its real estate, while providing nearby or on-site ambulatory care through partnerships with health providers.
In the original round of bidding, SUNY had chosen Fortis Property Group as the winning bid.
Described in a briefing sent out by SUNY on Tuesday, the Catsimatides proposal included a hospital “starting with 100 inpatient beds, then adding 50 beds per year, up to a maximum of 250 beds.” The project would offer “a medical mixed-use campus including medical services, commercial, retail and residential facilities.”
The plan would be “fully funded” by a business entity to be formed by Catsimatidis and Washington. According to the proposal, Catsimatidis and Washington are offering the financing “with no financial contingencies, resulting in a debt free hospital facility.”
Besides the hospital, the facilities would include walk-in ambulatory and urgent care centers with extended office hours. Unused inpatient service floors would be “repurposed for short term rehabilitation, long term nursing home and/or assisted living residences.”
LICH advocates have been fighting SUNY’s attempts to shut down the 155-year-old hospital for more than a year, saying that closing it would cripple health care delivery in some of the fastest-growing and underserved neighborhoods in northwestern Brooklyn.
Legal troubles will likely continue to dog any proposal SUNY decides to back. Most area official, along with Public Advocate Letitia James, said over the weekend that they refused to have anything to do with SUNY’s “illegal” bidding do-over.
In a letter to SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, and Councilmembers Brad Lander, Steve Levin, and Carlos Menchaca said, “SUNY’s current path is not legal and will not lead to the best possible conclusion to address the community’s needs. As such, we will not participate in this process.”
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery signed a similar letter last Wednesday, but on Friday decided to back a plan proposed by mega-developer Related Cos., with ambulatory services provided by The Brooklyn Hospital Center, located in her district.