More plans for St. John’s hospital

More plans for St. John’s hospital
By Rebecca Henely

A representative for a Brooklyn firm planning to renovate the boarded-up and graffiti-covered shell of what was once St. John’s Queens Hospital in Elmhurst presented a more detailed outline at a Community Board 4 Land Use and Zoning Committee meeting last week.

Yuriy Bolyshak, project architect with NSC Architecture, said the firm he works for at 1945 McDonald Ave. was hired by the building’s owner, J Guttman Realty, as design professionals for the project. The plan is to turn the former 227-bed facility at 90-02 Queens Blvd. into a mixed-use building with retail space, offices, apartments and an ambulatory diagnostic facility.

J Guttman Realty could not be reached by press time Tuesday evening.

The facility has been getting the most attention from officials eager to restore medical services lost when St. John’s and Mary Immaculate in Jamaica closed in 1999 after their parent company, Caritas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“We miss these hospitals that we lost in the past few years,” said Nick Pennachio, a CB 4 committee member.

Bolyshak said the intent is for the facility to be a large group of rented doctors’ offices and small clinics, all ranging from 100 square feet to 1,500 square feet. For the apartments, NSC Architecture tentatively wants to build 75 units and the retail segment will be restaurants, food suppliers and other small stores.

“In that community, we believe small businesses are not addressed,” Bolyshak said.

The firm also wants to use the St. John’s parking garage for the retail and residential units, create a new facade and build recreation space on the roof. There are no medical tenants lined up for the renovated St. John’s, although Bolyshak said they do have a retail tenant — an organic food market.

CB 4 members had some concerns, such as the aesthetics of the renovated building and the graffiti that currently covers the outside, but the biggest issue was that J Guttman Realty has not reached out to the community over the years it has owned the property.

“Why do we as a community have to sit here and look at this stuff?” said CB 4 member Laraine Donohue, referring to the graffiti on the building.

Bolyshak said he would take the community’s concerns back to the owner.

“They have a close watch on the building and they want the building to be serving the community,” Bolyshak said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.