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Queens Chronicle

Flushing’s St. Joseph’s Hospital Is Sold For Unknown Project

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Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2005 12:00 am

Ending a year-long saga, St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers has sold St. Joseph’s Hospital in Flushing to a developer.

St. Vincent spokesperson Juliet Lewis said the 79,800-square-foot, 5-story building and 4 contiguous tax lots were sold to Galway Properties LLC. Brian Lavin of Long Island was listed as the contractor but may also be the owner. Calls to him were not returned.

The property, located between Parsons Boulevard and 160th Street, from the north side of Union Turnpike to 79th Avenue, had been listed by Massey Knakal Realty Services with an asking price of $10 million. Although no selling price was announced, it is believed the site went for $8 million.

Tommy Lin, of Massey Knakal, said on Monday that the new owners “don’t know what they’ll do with the property yet, but it won’t remain as a hospital.”

This comes as no surprise to community leaders, who had fought to save St. Joseph’s after St. Vincent announced it was selling it in a cost-cutting measure. Hospital officials said it would have cost too much to update the facility and that usage did not warrant keeping it open.

Ken Cohen, president of the Flushing Suburban Civic Association and former chairman of the hospital’s advisory board, is sure the site will be used for some type of housing. The site is zoned R3-2. “The hospital had a zoning variance, which will not be continued. We don’t want a zoning change.”

He said the community would fight the developer if he wanted to build a high-rise structure. “We can live with housing as long as it doesn’t disrupt the area,” Cohen added.

SVCMC announced last April it would close the hospital in a year, but was able to speed up the process and closed it at the end of August. Many of its services were moved to St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica.

St. Joseph’s clinic, which was supposed to move to a nearby area, sought permission from the state to close this month. Patrick Wordell, executive director of St. Joseph’s, said the facility was supposed to move across the street, but it would have cost $425,000 to renovate and St. Vincent couldn’t afford it.

The services provided by the clinic are also being moved to St. John’s and Mary Immaculate. There are no plans to return to the Flushing area.

James Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, and his wife were clinic patients and expressed sorrow at its closing on April 1st. “Not all the employees got relocated either,” he said. “One nurse who worked for 34 years is out of a job.”

He believes that one possible use for the property may be as graduate housing for nearby St. John’s University, which has been looking for additional residential space for years. “I just have an inkling they are interested. It’s a good size piece of property and not far from the campus.”

In announcing the closing last year, St. Vincent said the 200-bed facility was only using an average of 50 beds a day and its emergency room only had 13,000 patients a year, which is three to four times less than other local hospitals.

The hospital lost $68 million in 2003 and was expected to lose $600,000 in 2004. Officials estimated it would have cost $40 million to $100 million to upgrade the facility.

St. Vincent acquired the site in 1985. It previously was operated as Hillcrest Hospital from 1962 until its sale to SVCMC.

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