Mount Sinai is exploring a $60 million project to turn defunct hospital...

Mount Sinai is exploring a $60 million project to turn defunct hospital buildings in Long Beach into housing for its medical residents. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Mount Sinai is exploring turning defunct hospital buildings in Long Beach into housing for its medical residents, according to Dr. Adhi Sharma, president of Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside.

South Nassau bought the shuttered hospital in bankruptcy proceedings in 2014, two years after the 162-bed facility was flooded by  Superstorm Sandy. Three of the hospital's buildings were deemed unsafe and knocked down, while substantial work would have been needed to reopen another two. Mount Sinai put state and federal disaster aid toward building a new stand-alone emergency department, primary care center and multi-specialty facility near the hospital. The two battered buildings have sat empty on Bay Drive ever since. 

Mount Sinai believes the property, which is about six miles from the South Nassau campus in Oceanside, would be best suited for workforce housing. The system said it wasn't sure how much units would rent for, but they would be offered below market rate.

The region's escalating housing costs are particularly challenging for the roughly 100 medical residents, Sharma said. They have completed medical school and are in the midst of on-the-job clinical training that pays an hourly wage, while often dealing with student loan debt, he noted. When surveyed, 88% of residents said they were interested in hospital-sponsored housing, Mount Sinai said. 

“It's challenging for younger members of the workforce to afford good housing,” Sharma said. “By adding housing for them, we would be able to ease their burden. At the same time, it is an attractive element for someone looking for residencies, so it could increase the caliber of applications we get.” 

The health system sought insight from developers through a request for expressions of interest and received five responses. Mount Sinai's primary goal would be to create about 100 units for residents, but the health system is open to exploring many types of projects and including other components, such as senior housing, Sharma said.

Long Beach City Council President Brendan Finn said Mount Sinai seems committed to advancing the community's interests. As with any development, making sure structures aren't too tall or dense is important, Finn said. Mount Sinai understands such concerns, he noted.

“That area has been dormant for a long time — since Sandy,” Finn said. “So it would be nice to use it in a positive way.”

The initiative could cost about $60 million, and Mount Sinai would move forward only if it finds new funding sources, Sharma said. That could involve securing tax benefits or participating in affordable housing programs. 

“We're coming near the end of a $500 million capital expansion campaign. We've not budgeted for this in that campaign,” he said. “Without some additional funding support, it would be a non-starter.”

Sharma said he hopes to finish the initial exploratory phase this year. The health system will likely not be able to dedicate personnel to planning efforts until mid-2025. That's when Mount Sinai could start sketching out plans and applying for permits, provided it has identified development partners and funding sources.

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