St. John’s Hospital building sold to apartment developer

St. John’s Hospital building sold to apartment developer
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Bill Parry

The St. John’s Hospital building on Queens Boulevard across from the Queens Center Mall has been sold to a developer for more than $50 million and will be turned into rental apartments, Crain’s New York Business reported.

A consortium of Asia-based investors, led by New York builder Steven Wu, purchased the property for $55 million and they plan on spending $45 million to convert the former medical facility into a residential building, the paper said. The deal includes the 260,000-square-foot building at 90-02 Queens Blvd. and a five-story parking garage at 87-28 58th Ave. in Elmhurst. The new developers plan to build ground floor retail as well as space for medical offices.

Caritas Healthcare ran the hospital before filing for bankruptcy and closed the facility in February 2009. At the time Caritas Healthcare was more than $40 million in debt. Borough President Helen Marshall tried to save both St. John’s Hospital and Caritas-owned Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica from closure but ultimately funding was not available.

Later that year Brooklyn-based developer Jack Gutman bought the facility for $26 million at a bankruptcy auction and wanted to turn it into an office building. Guttman secured the proper variances from the city and demolished the building’s interior, installing new windows before stopping the project and eventually selling off the property.

Gutman sold the St. John’s building to the Asian consortium at what appears to be a substantial profit.

There were four Queens hospitals that closed in five years, putting a strain on the borough’s healthcare system. St. Joseph’s Hospital in Flushing was converted into a drug abuse support facility in 2007 and Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills shut its doors in 2008 due to a recommendation from the first state Berger Commission, which evaluated the economic viability of hospitals.

In December, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli delivered a glowing report on the borough’s economic recovery from the recession when several of the hospitals closed. He said hospital employment rebounded in 2012, regaining nearly half the jobs that were lost during the recession. DiNapoli also pointed out that the healthcare and social assistance sector is the largest employment sector in Queens with 108,000 jobs, and accounted for one in every five jobs in 2012.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at [email protected] of by phone at 718-260-4538.

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