The shuttered building at 70-35 113 St. in Forest Hills that has been vacant since 2008 but once was home to Parkway Hospital is going on the auction block next week.
Dr. Robert Aquino, the former CEO of Parkway, tried several times to keep the hospital afloat. He even resorted to bribing former state Sen. Carl Kruger, leading to Aquino’s four-month sentence in prison a year ago.
But now with the eyesore up for bid, what will become of the hollow building?
“There’s no telling what it will be but ideally, it’ll be some sort of health annex,” Forest Hills Civic Association President Barbara Stuchinski said. “You’re limited in your options because even when it was a functioning hospital, it needed a lot of work.”
She added that senior housing would be a wonderful addition to the neighborhood but said developers should still weigh their options as there is an assisted-living facility not too far away from the location.
Community Board District Manager Frank Gulluscio agreed that senior housing might be the way to go.
“In our district, Forest Hills, Rego Park, we have a large senior population so any type of senior housing would work well in the area,” he said. “We would certainly be very interested in what the plans are for that building.”
As the auction is a foreclosure auction, when the 70,000-square-foot building goes up for bid at the Queens Supreme Court in Jamaica, the buyer must also take on the building’s outstanding lien of $14.86 million
“If I were a business person, I might consider knocking it down and turning it into a high-rise building,” Stuchinski said. “Would we want that? No. It would overwhelm the area and we can’t have that. You couldn’t use it for any type of center though. I couldn’t imagine it being used for businesses or anything.”
A number of elected officials have tried to get another hospital to come to the site, including mayoral candidate and former congressman for the area Anthony Weiner. At the time, Forest Hills Hospital, located l.2 miles away, was facing overcrowding with Mary Immaculate and St. John’s closing around the same time as Parkway. But nothing came of the push.
“I doubt it will ever, ever function as a hospital,” Stunchinski said. “It would take a lot of money because it’s allowed itself to go downhill so it ain’t going to come back.”
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), who has dedicated much of her time in public office to senior issues, said that she wants whoever the buyer of the hospital is to do what’s best for the neighborhood.
“It’s about time something happens with the Parkway Hospital building,” she said in a written statement. “It is my hope that whoever assumes ownership will use it for the purposes that will fit into our community.”
“You have to use it to enhance the community and to help the people of Forest Hills,” he said. “It has to be beneficial.”
Koslowitz, Gulluscio and Stunchinski could not speculate what will happen to the building after June 28.
“I really don’t know,” Stunchinski said. “There are so many possibilities but I haven’t a clue what will happen.”