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Queens Chronicle

Courthouse will have new life saving lives

Abandoned Rockaway building to house much-needed medical center

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Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:48 am, Thu May 9, 2013.

The ornate marble building on Beach Channel Drive, just east of the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, looks like a ruin you’d find in some ancient city in Europe. But in reality, it’s representative of a more recent era.

The Greek-revival structure at 90-01 Beach Channel Drive once was a courthouse until Queens unified its court system in the 1970s.

Since then, the building has been left abandoned and has turned into a symbol of Rockaway’s struggle.

“The courthouse site is the worst kind of blight because it’s a blight owned by the government,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park).

But now there appears to be a plan to give the courthouse a future — and one that would be useful to the people of the Rockaways and southern Queens.

The city Economic Development Corporation announced last week that the 24,000-square-foot building will be renovated and turned into a medical center.

The Harmony Group, a development organization that revitalizes historic propertiesÇ is planning to renovate the building and establish the healthcare center there.

The facility will feature a multi-specialty ambulatory surgical center, which will provide new medical services for a community that recently saw the closure of a major hospital, Peninsula Hospital Center.

According to the EDC, Harmony will rehabilitate the entire building, which will house tenants providing medical and outpatient surgical services in specialties including ophthalmology, urology, obstetrics, gynecology and orthopedics.

“The Harmony Group is excited to be the developer of the Rockaway Courthouse,” said Uri Kaufman, the company’s president, “Once restored, this important landmark will once again serve the community bycreating dozens of well-paying jobs, and by providing quality, affordable healthcare.”

The EDC estimates the move will bring 64 construction and 45 permanent jobs to the Rockaways.

“This is just what the doctor ordered,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park). “This building has been neglected and underutilized for far too long.At last it will provide a service to the community and be restored to its original beauty.”

A few years ago, Borough President Helen Marshall floated an idea for a college at the site, and the city issued a request for expressions of interest last year. The EDC selected Harmony, with it’s plan for a medical center, as the developer.

“This development is a win-win for so many reasons,” Goldfeder added, “We've been starved for reliable and accessible healthcare. Any project that promises any sort of care is welcome news.”

Goldfeder also sent a letter to state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah expressing support for a state certificate of need to be given to Harmony.

A CON is given to developers who wish to build hospitals and medical centers in New York State.

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