By Sarina Trangle
Parkway Hospital has sat vacant for years, but two firms are vying to control the future of what has been a no-man’s land in Forest Hills.
Jasper Venture Group LLC, a Manhattan-based real estate firm founded in 2013, announced last week that it planned to transform the hospital building into condominiums.
Rufino Marcelino, the office manager of Jasper Venture, said the company forged a partnership with Auberge Grand Central LLC, which holds the mortgage on the 70-35 113th St. property.
The partners expect the company that entered the winning bid during a January foreclosure auction will default on the purchase during the scheduled May 29 closing date.
At that point, Marcelino said Jasper Venture Group would pursue its condominiums plan.
“They are close to forgoing their deposit,” he said about 70-35 113th St. LLC,. the entity which placed the winning bid. “We’re trying to move forward ourselves.”
The entity entered the winning $22 million bid during a Jan. 11 foreclosure auction and made the required 10 percent security deposit, but has since failed to pay the remainder of the bid during several rescheduled closing dates.
Joseph Risi, the referee assigned to the foreclosure case, said if the partners wanted to assume ownership of the Parkway parcel, they would have to go to court and get a stay.
TimesLedger Newspapers could not reach 70-35 113th St. for comment. The officers of the LLC have not been identified.
This stalled state is nothing new for Parkway. It has been vacant, except for a few telecommunications companies renting space on the roof, since the state Commission on Healthcare Facilities shut the hospital in 2008.
Parkway’s owner and chief executive officer, Dr. Robert Aquino, struggled to fend off creditors for years, eventually pleading guilty to federal bribery charges stemming from his attempts to bribe state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio in exchange for the Ozone Park lawmaker lobbying on behalf of Parkway. Seminerio died in jail serving a six-year sentence.
Neighbors have complained that Parkway fell into disrepair and became a magnet for graffiti as the property cycled through bankruptcy court and foreclosure.
Though Jasper Venture Group said the community is eager to see the property revitalized, zoning may be another hurdle for the company.
The property is currently zoned R1-2A, which permits single-family detached homes.
Jasper Venture Group emphasized the hospital’s 100,000-square-foot layout and noted that the firm “wants to increase its size.” The six-story building sits on a 56,400-square-foot lot.
Marcelino would not say whether the condominiums would be single-family detached homes or whether the project would require a zoning variance, ordinance change or special permit. He said Jasper would begin examining that once the bidder was out of the picture.
The community and City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) have said they would like to see the lot developed into homes for seniors.
Michael Cohen, legislative director for Koslowitz, said she had reached out to both Jasper Venture Realty and 70-35 113th St., but had not heard from either party about their plans.
“Without actually having seen a plan, there is really no comment,” Cohen said. “She wants to discuss with whoever owns the property their thoughts on what they plan to do and how perhaps the developers’ interest and communities’ interest can merge.”
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.