Old Rockaway Courthouse to become medical center

Photo courtesy Michael Bloomberg
By Bianca Fortis

The old Rockaway courthouse, abandoned for decades, will soon undergo a makeover as it becomes a medical center, officials said.

The Albany-based Harmony Group, a real estate company known for rehabilitating historic properties throughout New York state, was selected in April to restore and transform the vacant building into a state-of-the-art medical facility, according to city officials.

Last month, the Queens Borough Board gave its final approval for the project. The city is in contract with the group to sell the property for $50,000, and the closing and beginning of construction are anticipated for 2014, according to Patrick Muncie, a spokesman for the city Economic Development Corp.

The Harmony Group said it plans to keep the building’s Tennessee marble and limestone exterior.

The project is expected to cost more than $10 million, according to the mayor’s office.

The three-story, 24,000-square-foot building, at 90-01 Beach Channel Drive, was built in 1932 and closed in 1962.

“The Harmony Group is excited to be the developer of the Rockaway Courthouse,” said Uri Kaufman, president of the Harmony Group. “Once restored, this important landmark will once again serve the community by creating dozens of well-paying jobs and by providing quality, affordable health care.”

Officials hope the new medical center will fill the void left when Peninsula Hospital closed in May 2012 due to bankruptcy. The Rockaway community currently has only one hospital serving the immediate area.

“For over 30 years, the Rockaway Courthouse has sat vacant, a profound waste of this beautiful building,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. “With the recent closure of a major nearby private hospital, this will help improve access to important medical care.”

The project is estimated to bring 64 construction jobs and 45 permanent jobs according to the mayor’s office.

“The long-awaited development of the Rockaway Courthouse is finally on the horizon,” Borough President Helen Marshall said. “This strategically located building, located near the entrance to the peninsula, was a neglected gem for decades that will now be polished for future use as a much-needed medical facility in an underserved community.

“With only one hospital on the peninsula, this resource is much-needed and I am grateful to the Bloomberg administration and the Harmony Group for taking on the challenges of restoring this building to a use that Rockaway residents sorely need.”

The center will be staffed by Rockaway ASC Development LLC, a group of 10 physicians specializing in ophthalmology, urology, obstetrics, gynecology and orthopedics.

The space will offer medical and outpatient surgical services.

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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