03 January 2008

Long Island College Hospital: Enabler of Brooklyn's Desecration

Peek behind half the atrocious, elephantine, misguided examples of overdevelopment in South Brooklyn and you'll find a common culprit: the feckless, irresponsible, fire-sale antics of Long Island College Hospital.

Wonder where L&M Equities got all the land needed to flatten the Hamberger Christmas Tree Ornament Factory on Hicks Street and put up a fat slice of condolife? They bought it off LICH, of course. How did the Clarett Group get its hands on 340 Court Street at the corner of Union, paving the way for their plan to build a much bigger condo/retail building than the squat former Brooklyn Longshoremen's Medical Center that sits there now? By giving LICH a cool $24 million, that's how. And how is it that Time Equities’ is able to annex the landmarked 105-year-old Lamm Institute building at 110 Amity Street with a cram-as-much-housing-in-as-possible plan for six townhouses around the corner, not to mention a rooftop bulkhead on top of the old Lamm? You guessed it! LICH needed some pocket change.

I don't know what's going on over there at ugly old Long Island College Hospital (Ugh. So ugly.). But they sure need some money and have decided that selling off land to the smarmiest bidder is the best way to do it. OK, fine. It's their property. But should the community have to pay for their every windfall? Can LICH only keep the local citizenry in good health by killing off the neighborhood's integrity? The first two of the projects mentioned above have come down in size since first proposed, but you can bet that wouldn't have happened if developers hadn't seen that local residents weren't about to lie down about the plans.

How many more Brooklyn lots LICH owns I don't know; they're a secretive bunch over there. But if I were an unscrupulous developer looking to build me some new luxury condos, I'd hightail it off to LICH with a sack of money, plop it on the president's desk and say, "Whaddaya got?"


Anonymous said...

Hey Brooks, I'm not sure that I see a problem with any of these projects (yet).
First - can you explain the "vehement" opposition to the Amity Street proposal? I walk my dog by the building every day and for the last few years it has been a formerly beautiful deserted building with broken windows and an ugly fence. It will now be a beautiful rehabbed building with townhouses replacing an ugly fence that are are not out of context - and bringing money into a no-mans-land hospital block that can only help the area.

The Court Street building has promised to remain harmonious to the neighborhood - a huge concession considering that the block isn't landmarked; and the Columbia Street condos haven't been approved yet, so I see no reason to write that off.

Honestly, I am most confused about the vitriol towards the Amity Building...

Brooks of Sheffield said...

The Columbia Street condos were given the go-ahead by CB6 last month. They came down in size but, in my opinion, are made of the usual ugly housing stock we get these days from developers. True, Clarett has promised to keep its project harmonious and not build up to the 21 stories that is their right on that property, but no ground has been broken and the public has been shown no plans, so I see no reason to trust them just yet. Whatever goes up will dominate Court Street. I agree with you that the Amity project is the least offensive of the three. I think the vitriol its inspired is just a public that is tired of being pushed around by developers who only think of the people when they howl bloody murder, and forgotten by politicians who don't think the deals they make with the real estate interests don't adversely affect their constituents. Also, my main beef in this item is with LICH, which seems to well off its property to the highest bidder without a thought for the surrounding area. That's the free market, sure, but not the work of a good and caring neighbor.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

The pizza sign rings bells in distant memory. Can you tell me Flatbush and where, please? It's driving me crazy. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

There is no vehement opposition to Amity. Some flyers went up. That is all. Obviously, there is a group of people who are going to oppose it, but in this case I think they are not speaking for most of their neighbors, although they try to give that impression. The Court Street property is huge and I hope that the plans will be made public and communication will be open, rather than secretive. Thanks for pointing out that ALL these projects are due to the hospital selling off property.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Sure, Carol. About the Amity Street project, however, I'm afraid the opposition of considerable, though I don't know if its "vehement." I just heard that the Cobble Hill Association has decided to oppose the plan.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Barbara: It's Flatbush between Parkside and Winthrop. 720 Flatbush to be specific.

Maia / 20Tauri said...

LICH was almost shut down last year for lack of funds, so can you blame them for selling off some of their property to keep the main hospital running? I've used their ER a couple of times, and the service was great - I'll take a hospital being around in our community any day over worries about the building of some new condos. I mean, would you really rather have to go to some overcrowded hospital across town?

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I'm not saying they shouldn't sell their properties. I saying they should think before they sell. I want them to stay afloat, too. But is it OK for them to--for an extreme example--sell land to a nuclear power plant in order to do so?

Anonymous said...

Maybe this explains LICH's fire sale:

Brooklyn vs. Manhattan hospital war


Sunday, January 6th 2008, 4:00 AM

Doctors at a community hospital in Brooklyn - saddled with massive debt and outdated equipment - fear millions of dollars of its funding are being sent to an exclusive Manhattan medical center.

Long Island College Hospital's money - including much of a $140 million bequest - is apparently being redirected to Manhattan's well-to-do Beth Israel Medical Center, where patients are offered deluxe rooms with designer furnishings, the doctors allege.

The 800 doctors of Long Island College Hospital want the state attorney general and the state Department of Health to investigate and terminate the hospital's 10-year alliance with Continuum Health Partners, which oversees both LICH and Beth Israel, the Daily News has learned.

The physicians blame Continuum for a dispiriting decade of decline and say the company's alleged mismanagement of the hospital could lead to the shuttering of the Brooklyn hospital.

"It's sad, it really is sad," said Dr. Tom Sorra, a past president of the medical staff, who has been at LICH for three decades. "Our hearts, our professional lives have been in this place."

The doctors will deliver a letter requesting the probe to the attorney general and Health Department Monday.

The letter was sent on behalf of 800 physicians affiliated with LICH, many of them veterans of the hospital, which marks its 150th anniversary this spring.

"There's just been increasing demoralization of the staff," said Dr. Arnold Licht, who came to LICH in 1976. "There's a feeling that our hospital, once regarded as the premiere facility in Brooklyn, has really lost some of its luster."

Jim Mandler, a spokesman for Continuum, one of the region's largest hospital networks, declined to comment yesterday.

Continuum's de facto control of LICH, taking over personnel decisions and refusing to let hospital administrators see financial records, led to a loss of adequate nursing care and accurate lab tests, according to lawyer Jeffrey Ruggiero, who is representing the LICH doctors.

Antiquated equipment produced a loss of surgical business, including orthopedic and laparoscopic surgeries, the lawyer alleges.

In 1998, LICH signed on with Beth Israel Medical Center and St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital as a member of Continuum's consortium. The agreement was supposed to provide LICH with $15 million to expand its operations; instead, its doctors charge, no money came in and its patient base declined.

The hospital's medical staff wants the hospital's 1998 agreement with Continuum voided, claiming the company never received state approval for the deal.

Among the charges made in Ruggiero's seven-page letter to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Health Commissioner Richard Daines:
# Continuum refused to provide LICH officials with details on how $63 million left to the hospital by a former board member in his will was used. The money was part of a $140 million bequest.

# CAT scanners at the facility are more than a decade old, and there's a shortage of state-of-the-art surgical equipment.

# Continuum allowed key personnel to depart, including medical specialists, nurses, social workers and therapists.

Although Continuum won't allow LICH managers to examine the hospital's books, the company predicts an operating loss of $30 million this year - six times the initial $5 million projection, the doctors say.

The bottom line, said Dr. Frank DiPillo, a LICH physician, is a severe inability "to deliver the kind of high-quality health care the people of Brooklyn have come to expect from us."


Anonymous said...

There's also a property on Atlantic Ave. formerly owned by LICH that has been rental units for a few years.

Anonymous said...

Time Equities and its partner Lucky Boy do not want to present a project that does not have community support. We thought the mews approach did because it was supported verbally and in writing by a number of community residents and local architects based on meetings we held in November and December. The mews design was also recommended for approval by the Landmarks staff who reviewed the plan.

It may be that some community members who took issue with the mews did not attend these meetings. The benefit of the Landmark process is that it gives all stakeholders a chance to be heard. Several concerns that arose at the meetings led to changes.

We value feedback from the community and the commission and will continue to address concerns, such as those that arose in the early meetings which led to design revisions of the Henry Street fa├žade of the new townhouse.

At this point, we will re-conceive the project in a traditional street wall approach and try to present a plan that is responsive to the input received at the most recent Landmark hearing. As we did last time, we will reach out to the community and Landmark staff prior to presenting the final concept to the commission.

- Francis Greenburger, CEO and Chairman, Time Equities Inc.