SUNY agrees “in principle” to Fortis purchase of LICH

June 17, 2014 Heather Chin
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The State University of New York (SUNY) has agreed “in principle” with a proposed deal to sell the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) complex to real estate developer Fortis Property Group.

If approved by the SUNY Board of Trustees as expected, the sale will go through for a price of $240 million—including a $24 million deposit—plus an additional $5 million for a community foundation to “address the ongoing healthcare needs of the community,” as well as an as-yet-undetermined amount to cover SUNY’s emergency room operating costs during the transition period from May 22—SUNY’s withdrawal date—to when Fortis takes ownership.

It also does not address the matter of who will pay any environmental remediation and cleanup costs related to the potential soil contamination on-site.

This pre-agreement follows over 18 months of legal battles between SUNY, health care worker unions and civic groups over the fate of the 156-year-old hospital, with unions and residents pushing for a full-service hospital and SUNY entertaining condo-healthcare mixed-use plans from bidders.

Fortis’s plan is one of those mixed-use proposals. They plan to convert the 43-acre site into a combination residential/healthcare campus, with condominiums, at least 25 percent designated affordable housing, and a “state-of-the-art healthcare facility.”

That facility is slated to have a 20-year-guarantee for medical use and will include a 24 hour/seven-day-a-week freestanding ER, urgent care center, ambulatory surgery center, primary and preventative care center, cancer center, diagnostic imaging and other specialized care, and HIV clinic.

All healthcare facilities will be operated by NYU Langone Medical Center and Lutheran Medical Center.

However, citing the lack of a full-service hospital, residents and local politicians have blasted the pre-deal as “denying Brooklyn the vital healthcare it needs.”

“SUNY has yet again ignored the needs of the community [and] has refused to heed our calls, costing the state tens of millions [of dollars],” wrote State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymember Joan Millman, and Councilmembers Brad Lander, Stephen Levin and Carlos Menchaca in a statement.

“[This agreement] does not resume immediate ambulance service nor require an independent community needs assessment,” they continued. “We will continue to stand with the community and urge SUNY and all parties [to] meet the needs of the neighborhood and all of Brooklyn.”

Fortis, however, stated that it is “proud to serve the residents of Brooklyn and look(s) forward to ensuring continuity of care while transforming the former LICH complex into a first class medical facility as well as a site that serves the needs of the community.

Fortis was the lead bidder during the first request-for-proposal (RFP) round, but was ranked third in the latest round. However, SUNY abruptly ended negotiations with second-place bidder Peebles Corp. late on Wednesday, May 28, citing an “unacceptable” request by Peebles to extend SUNY’s license of operation—and subsequent financial costs and malpractice liability—for another six months.

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