By Anna Gustafson and Ivan Pereira
The ever-evolving fate of what was once Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica has changed course once again.
Jack Guttman, who purchased Mary Immaculate and St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst in an October bankruptcy auction, relinquished ownership of the Jamaica site to real estate developer Joseph Chetrit about three weeks ago, according to Isaac Abraham,a spokesman for Guttman. Guttman and Chetrit closed on the deal about two weeks ago, Abraham said.
Guttman is still the owner of the St. John’s site.
Chetrit and Guttman have had a troubled history with development in the city. In October Chetrit traded his property on 100th Street in Manhattan for a Jewish nursing home at 120 West 106 Street so he could develop upscale condominiums at the Jewish Home and Hospital Life Care site, whichis in an area slated for downsizing. Guttman and his father, Joshua 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 their Brooklyn properties, the Greenpoint Terminal Market.
Chetrit did not return a phone call to his Manhattan office.
Abraham did not say what role Chetrit played in the bankruptcy auction, but Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Borough President Helen Marshall, said the real estate developer was a silent partner with Guttman. Silent partners typically provide significant capital for an investment but do not have to submit their name for public knowledge.
“Guttman has a silent partner who now has control of the site,” Andrews said. “The borough president has tried to have a meeting with [Guttman] but without success. He has not returned our phone calls.”
Guttman never relayed information about Chetrit being involved in the $26 million purchase of Mary Immaculate and St. John’s in October to the borough president, Andrews said.
“It came about as a surprise,” he said.
St. John’s and Mary Immaculate, owned by bankrupt and shuttered Caritas Health Care, were sold to Guttman at a bankruptcy auction Oct. 16. The auction took place at the midtown Manhattan offices of law firm Proskauer Rose and was not open to the public.
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 on the auction block in May.
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 Philip Weiss, the spokesman for CB Richard Ellis, the firm that conducted the auction, 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.”
CB Richard Ellis was retained by Proskauer Rose, Caritas Health Care’s bankruptcy counsel.
“I’m less interested in who got the properties rather than what will happen with the properties,” Bearak said.
Abraham said he is unsure as to what will happen with the St. John’s site and cannot speak for Chetrit. He did say that whatever takes place with the Elmhurst property, “all ideas will be presented to elected officials, boards and leadership in the community.”
“One of the most important things for the Queens community is to bring jobs back to the area,” Abraham said. “If you look at the mom-and-pop shops in the area, they’re dying since the hospitals closed. They are looking for something to build back the economy.”
Guttman has not conducted “much community outreach,” according to Abraham, but he said he plans to communicate with residents after the new year.