NEW YORK—Amid community outcries for a redo of the SUNY Downstate’s RFP process for bids on the historic Long Island College Hospital (LICH), negotiations are moving forward smoothly with developer Fortis Property Group, attorneys said Tuesday.
Over the course of the rocky process, the community groups have seen their chances of retaining a hospital at the Cobble Hill location get slimmer and slimmer.
A recent death in Red Hook has put the community on edge. Many wonder if the minutes saved by going to LICH over a hospital further away could have saved the resident’s life. Ambulances have been diverted to Brooklyn Hospital Center and New York Methodist since May 22.
“All those people moving into the condos, they’re going to need the hospital too,” said Bob Pepper, a Brooklyn Heights resident. Hospitals across the river in Manhattan, which many wealthy Brooklyn Heights residents use, won’t help if you have a stroke, another resident added.
Previous negotiations with Brooklyn Health Partners and Peebles Corp., the first and second ranking bidders, fell through quickly.
Brooklyn Health Partners had proposed a full-service hospital.
Second-ranked Peebles had agreed to a study of the area carried out by a team including experts chosen by the community, with the focus of determining whether a hospital is needed where LICH sits.
Now Fortis has agreed to an “ongoing needs assessment,” which would be carried out by its partner NYU Langone Medical Center.
It is a technicality that would also allow NYU to reduce services, if it deems it necessary. Fortis plans to set aside 10,000 square feet more for NYU to use for health services.
“We’re happy to announce we’ve had very fruitful and productive negotiations with SUNY,” said an attorney representing Fortis.
Peebles is protesting SUNY’s decision to stop negotiations, saying the university negotiated in bad faith. If the community groups’ motion is denied, they will make a motion for SUNY to continue negotiations with Peebles.
LICH, zoned for residential, is prime real estate, and in many of the developers’ proposals health services were an add-on. But as the Northern Brooklyn communities grow, and hospitals crowd, residents said the demand for a hospital can only go up.