Mount Sinai merger bid to free up prized East Village land hits roadblock

Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s under-the-radar plan to sell off valuable East Village real estate was thrown into disarray when a New York State Department of Health committee rejected the hospital system’s proposal to merge the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary into its Beth Israel home. Refused to approve. Division.

Mount Sinai is the parent corporation of NYEEI. The infirmary owns two buildings and some vacant land on Second Avenue between East 13th and East 14th Streets, which sources said could fetch up to $70 million if sold for the apartment-building construction.

One building, 218 Second Avenue, dates to 1902 and was the setting for a scene in “The Godfather” when Al Pacino saved Marlon Brando from an assassination attempt.

DOH panel member Dr. Howard Berliner, who voted against the merger last week, pointed to concerns at the hearing that Mount Sinai aims to eliminate NYEEI so it can cash in on property sales.

“If I were a real estate developer, I would be drooling at the prospect of getting this [NYEEI] The site, in the East Village, is probably one of the hottest markets in New York City,” Berliner said.

As we reported in June, Mount Sinai is slowly relocating facilities and staff From Second Avenue sites to other locations that are part of the Mount Sinai Beth Israel network. The transferred departments included surgical, clinical and ambulatory units.

218 Second Avenue dates to 1902 and was the setting for a scene in “The Godfather” when Al Pacino saved Marlon Brando from an assassination attempt.

The DOH panel, then known as the New York Public Health and Health Planning Council, voted 11-6 to approve the merger, but it was three votes short of the number required under the panel’s rules. Those who voted no said that, among other issues, Mount Sinai had kept the community in the dark about its plans and avoided questions from the DOH itself.

The committee’s vote is not the final word, as it must be confirmed by DOH Acting Commissioner James V. McDonald, who was nominated to the position on Jan. 1. One source said it was “rare” for a commissioner to overrule the planning council. ,

The merger plan is a necessary step towards dismantling the infirmary to facilitate the sale of the assets. If Mount Sinai’s proposal is ultimately rejected, it means that any sale of real estate would have to be approved by the NYEEI board—which would dissolve in the merger.

State and city officials recently wrote to Mount Sinai CEO Kenneth Davis urging him to “pause” its proposal. Politicians as well as many NYEEI staff fear that the merger would essentially destroy the infirmary and scatter its community-centered services all over the map, while Preservationists don’t want to see 218 Second Avenue torn down,

The letter, signed by Assembly members Harvey Epstein and Deborah Glick, state Sens. Brian Kavanagh and Brad Hoyleman-Siegal, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levin, said, “We are still looking to answer the questions Mount Sinai asked during this process.” are waiting for.” City Council members Carlina Rivera and Christopher Marte.

Six-story 1902 building at 218 Second Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets.
Six-story 1902 building at 218 Second Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets.

Dr. Richard Koplin, a longtime attending physician at NYEEI, hailed the panel’s vote as “a huge victory for the thousands of patients who receive care at the infirmary each year, and for doctors, elected leaders and community members.” again and again to save this 200 year old institution from ruin.

Koplin said, “Mount Sinai has been confusing and non-communicative about their plans for the hospital, and has even referred to the fact that it is a precursor to selling the property.”

However, in an “update” released on Friday, Mount Sinai President Dr. Jeremy Boal and NYEEI President Dr. James C. Tsai claimed that the proposal was “strictly technical in nature” and that the state now has “some for the time being” will make a final decision without a formal recommendation.

A spokesman for Mount Sinai said it is “not a fact” that the buildings are being sold. He denied that NYEEI was being dismantled and claimed that the merger was necessary to prevent the institution from losing its acute care hospital status.

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