By Anna Gustafson
The state Dormitory Authority has asked a federal bankruptcy court judge to further review the sale of St. John’s and Mary Immaculate hospitals to Guttman Realty, a Dormitory Authority spokesman said this week.
Brooklyn Bankruptcy Court Judge Carla E. Craig was slated to approve or deny the $26.625 million sale Oct. 22, but instead ordered a delay on the decision last week and has since been ordered by the state to wait on a ruling as to whether or not Guttman will be allowed to take over the two sites owned by the bankrupt and shuttered Caritas Health Care, according to the state and Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Borough President Helen Marshall.
“There’s no motion to reopen the bidding process right now, though there’s support for doing that,” Andrews said.
Marshall spoke with Gov. David Paterson at a dinner event last Thursday night and asked for the state to request the delay. The Dormitory Authority then ordered the review Friday, a state spokesman said.
Marshall’s office has expressed concerns about the Brooklyn-based Guttman Realty.
Joshua Guttman, owner of Guttman Realty, and his son, Jack Guttman, were charged with 434 counts of failure to maintain privately owned waterfront property after a 10-alarm fire broke out in 2006 at one of Guttman’s Brooklyn properties, the Greenpoint Terminal Market.
Leszek Kuczera of Brooklyn was charged in 2006 with setting the fire.
Isaac Abraham, a spokesman for Guttman Realty, said last week “if the Guttmans can have such a bad reputation because of the fire, I can’t see why the city should continue building after the Deutsche Bank fatalities.”
Guttman purchased the St. John’s property in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate site in Jamaica at a bankruptcy auction in Manhattan last week, according to CB Richard Ellis, the firm retained by Proskauer Rose, Caritas Health Care’s bankruptcy counsel, to conduct the auction.
Caritas, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February and soon after began liquidating its assets, owned the St. John’s and Mary Immaculate sites, both of which were placed up for sale in May.
The auction took place at Proskauer Rose’s midtown Manhattan office Oct 16. It was not open to the public.
There were a total of five bidders on the Mary Immaculate site but only one for St. John’s, CBRE said.
Queens officials, including Marshall and Queens Civic Congress President Corey Bearak, have said they want to see the St. John’s and Mary Immaculate sites house health care facilities. But CB Richard Ellis spokesman Philip Weiss said the buyer “envisions several options for redeveloping the Mary Immaculate site, including an educational facility, nonprofit organization use, government operations or a religious facility.” The St. John’s property may be used for office building development.
Marshall met with Guttman last week and urged the company to look into using the sites for health care purposes, Andrews said.
“It was a frank, open meeting, and he said he would work with the borough president and any interested parties in terms of the future of the sites,” Andrews said. “We don’t have a clear-cut understanding yet that the sites will include a medical component, but they may.”
Abraham said the company will not make any decisions about the sites’ development until it has received input from the community and local elected officials.
“Unfortunately, hospital and medical facilities, most of them are literally bankrupt,” Abraham said. “%u2026 To get any type of health care facility, you’d have to have a tremendous amount of private finances because you can’t rely on state or city budgets to help you. I really don’t see where a private investor without getting proper assistance from the government would be able to do that.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.