The deal, which requires that Fortis make a deposit of $24 million, or ten percent of the $240 million purchase price by June 30, may finally bring the long saga of LICH—in which the community and elected officials, including then-public advocate Bill de Blasio, battled to keep a full-service hospital open at the Cobble Hill site—to a close. The Fortis deal does not include a full-service hospital and as with all of the nine proposals submitted for the site, it will include a condo component.
“Let me say it’s a great moment and a time of relief,” chairman H. Carl McCall told the board after the vote, according to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “It’s been a long, arduous and damaging process . . . However, it is now behind us.”
Beyond the $240 million sale price, Fortis has agreed to provide additional funds to cover the operating costs for SUNY to run the emergency department until September 1, when Fortis’ partner NYU Langone Medical Center is slated to take over operations. (Fortis has also partnered with Lutheran Family Center, a branch of Lutheran Medical Center.) The deal also includes $5 million for a Community Foundation “to address the ongoing healthcare needs of the community,” but does not include a provision for a community needs assessment.
The lack of an assessment, as well as SUNY’s decision to cut off talks with Brooklyn Health Partners, whose proposal for the site included a full-service hospital, and the Peebles Corporation, has fueled opposition to the Fortis deal, which elected officials and community members claim does not meet the community’s health care needs. When SUNY announced that it had reached a tentative deal last week, a group of Brooklyn elected officials, including State Sen. Daniel Squadron and City Councilman Brad Lander, released a statement lamenting the agreement, which “falls far short of a full-service hospital. And it does not resume immediate ambulance service, nor require an independent community needs assessment,” the statement read. “We will continue to stand with the community, and urge SUNY and all parties to work collaboratively to meet the needs of the neighborhood and all of Brooklyn.”
The current Fortis proposal, which includes a free-standing emergency room, ambulatory surgery center, observation beds, an HIV/AIDS outpatient clinic, dialysis services and a primary care health center operated by Lutheran, is far more comprehensive that the one that the Brooklyn developer submitted in December, before SUNY backed away from the deal in the hopes that the newly-elected mayor might save the ailing institution when he took office.
In a statement, SUNY heralded the current proposal, calling the medical services proposed for the site “a world-class healthcare solution for the community.” The sale will also allow the state university to focus its resources on “stabilizing Downstate and University Hospital,” SUNY said, “and to protect its students, campuses, and taxpayers from massive financial losses associated with LICH.” The hospital was losing $13 million a month, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“Today, the Trustees acted unanimously to approve an agreement with Fortis, marking a significant milestone that will benefit the State University of New York’s nearly half-million students and provide a viable and world-class long-term healthcare solution for the Brooklyn community,” wrote chairman McCall.
Construction is expected to take approximately three years, according to SUNY; the deal also includes a 20-year deed restriction that the site be used for medical purposes.
A Fortis spokesperson wrote that the company was looking “forward to creating a first-class medical complex that provides families across Brooklyn with world class healthcare. In the coming weeks we will be meeting with community leaders and stakeholders to discuss additional details of our plans. “