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Sale of Two Queens Hospitals to Frum Brooklyn Developer On Hold

emergency1.jpgThe sale of two shuttered Queens hospitals to a controversial developer has been temporarily blocked.

The state Dormitory Authority asked a federal bankruptcy court judge to hold off on approving the sale of St. John’s Hospital and Mary Immaculate Hospital to an investment group headed by Joshua Guttman.

The authority, which is owed more than $62 million by bankrupt hospital owner Caritas Health Care, wants the court to consider reopening the auction. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for tomorrow.

Guttman made the highest bid at an Oct. 16 auction, promising $26.6 million for both properties.

The Dormitory Authority filed the motion after Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and others made a personal appeal to Gov. Paterson at a Queens County Democratic Party dinner Thursday night.

“The borough president spoke with Gov. Paterson in person on Thursday night and then again by phone on Friday,” said Marshall spokesman Dan Andrews. “She asked for the delay, and is very grateful to the governor for once again hearing our call to assist with the current medical crisis in Queens.”

Marshall and other local leaders have been fighting to keep health care facilities at both of the sites, saying the need is dire across the borough.

But health care is not in Guttman’s plans. He has said that Mary Immaculate’s Jamaica site could be transformed into an educational or religious facility as well as offices for a nonprofit organization.

The St. John’s building, located on Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, he said, could be turned into offices.

In court papers, the Dormitory Authority pointed out that another company, Village Management Group, stepped up after the auction and offered even more money for the sites.

Guttman’s history has also raised eyebrows around the borough. He and his partners were charged with hundreds of counts of environmental crimes after one his properties, the Greenpoint Terminal Market, went up in flames three years ago. He was faulted for failing to maintain the site prior to the fire.

Issac Abraham, who works with Guttman on community relations, said there is no private or public funding to help maintain health care facilities at the former hospitals. He also downplayed fears that Guttman would flip the properties when the economy improves.

“Mr. Guttman has never flipped a property,” he said.

(Source: NY Daily News)

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