Attempts to resuscitate the site of the old St. John’s Hospital are flat-lining as the latest developer has put the building back up for sale.
The hospital, located on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, was bought by a Brooklyn-based developer called 89-52 Queens LLC for $14.35 million in 2009, shortly after Caritas Health Care, which ran the hospital, filed for bankruptcy, closing the hospital for good.
Originally, the developer planned to use the space as a healthcare facility but due to a lack of interest from medical providers, the firm opted to build a commercial and residential space instead.
“It was supposed to be all mixed,” Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol said. “There was going to be a grocery store in the basement, commercial businesses on the first floor, offices on the floor above that and then residential all the way up. It was all being worked on. I don’t know what happened.”
According to Massey Knakal Realty Services’ website, the building was officially put up for sale last week.
“We don’t know why the seller is selling the property,” a Massey Knakal official said. “The building has been approved for mixed-use already, so it’s not that they can’t develop the property.”
The asking price for the hospital is set at a whopping $55 million, almost triple the price the seller paid.
“That’s just terrible,” one passerby said. “It’s an eyesore. I was thinking this would be said and done within a year or two, but if they’re re-selling it, then this will take a lot longer than that. I promise you.”
The listing also reports that the building has been completely gutted to the steel and concrete skeleton, but all windows have been replaced.
“There are approved [Board of Standards and Appeals] plans to convert the property to a mixed-used building with retail on the ground floor and lower level, medical facilities on the second floor and residential on the remaining floors,” the listing reads.
Rumors have surfaced that the firm is selling the property because it could not find vendors willing to pay such high rent rates though the company originally expected a huge influx of interested renters.
“It would make sense that people don’t want to rent,” Heather McHale of Elmhurst said. “Rent is so high as it is so I don’t think they’re going to have much luck with it. I don’t know what the owner was thinking by buying this place up. They should just make it a hospital and leave it at that.”
According to the Department of Buildings’ website, the listed owner is Jack Guttman, who could not be reached for comment on the matter.
While the future of the former St. John’s Hospital remains unclear, the real estate company said it expects whoever ends up buying the property to create a development similar to what 89-52 Queens LLC had in mind.
“We’re looking to keep it pretty much the same,” the real estate representative said. “We are looking to sell to a developer who will probably keep it a mixed-use property similar to the original plan.”