The former John J. Foley nursing home in Yaphank, which...

The former John J. Foley nursing home in Yaphank, which has sat vacant for more than a decade, will become and inpatient drug treatment and rehabilitation center. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The former John J. Foley nursing home in Yaphank, which has sat vacant for more than a decade, will be sold next month to a Manhattan real estate company that plans to transform the five-story building into an inpatient drug treatment and rehabilitation center for youth and adults, according officials involved in the project.

Real estate investment firm Empire Equities Capital Ltd. is expected to close on the site next month, purchasing the 170,000-square-foot building for $7.6 million from NYU Langone Health, according to the purchase and sale agreement, which was provided exclusively to Newsday.

Suffolk County, which owned and operated the 264-bed public nursing home, sold the property in 2016 to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center for $15 million. Brookhaven Memorial later became Long Island Community Hospital, which merged with NYU Langone in 2022.

Julie Vitrano, Empire Equities' property manager and the executive assistant to company president Daniel Rokeach, said the victims of Long Island's opioid and fentanyl crisis need long-term help, not only getting free of drugs but in readjusting to society. 


  • The former John J. Foley nursing home in Yaphank, which has been vacant since 2013, is expected to be sold next month to a real estate company that plans to transform it into an inpatient drug treatment and rehabilitation center.
  • Empire Equities Capital will purchase the building for $7.6 million from NYU Langone Health, which took ownership of the property after its merger with Long Island Community Hospital in 2022.
  • The new operators of the facility are proposing a drug treatment facility and re-education center that could house up to 800 youths and adults struggling with the opioid and fentanyl crisis.

“We don't want people to go in needing help and just being allowed to stay for three or four days, maybe a week. And the next thing you know, they're back on the streets,” Vitrano said. “I want to be able to put something together where we can help them and then also teach them how to live without going back on the streets.”

Vitrano said she's planning to bring in established organizations in the medical and drug rehabilitation field to help operate the new facility, including a detox center.

At the time of its purchase, Brookhaven Memorial had plans to provide “vital outpatient services” on the premises, such as dialysis, adult day care, Medicaid assisted living, pediatric services and drug alcohol rehabilitation, according to the hospital’s proposal to the county.

But those plans never materialized and the building remains in virtually the same condition as when the last nursing home patient left, in 2013.

In a statement, NYU Langone said Long Island Community Hospital “made a decision to market the property for sale. After NYU Langone Health’s affiliation with the hospital took effect, the decision was made to sell the building. It is our hope that the property’s new owners will find an appropriate community use for it.”

The proposed facility would have a separate wing focused on helping patients, primarily teens and young adults, readjust to society after getting clean, said Gary Bodenburg, a special-education teacher and administrator who is part of the project.

“There's very few treatment programs,” said Bodenburg, who ran unsuccessfully last month for Brookhaven Town Council. “But on top of that, there's even fewer re-education programs; training these children and youth to be able to reacclimate into society after beating drug addiction and not having greater recidivism back into these types of rehab programs.”

It was not immediately clear how many inpatient beds the new facility would hold, although Bodenburg said a 400-800 estimate was possible. 

The long-term plan, Vitrano said, is to potentially add an elder nursing or rehabilitation center wing to the property.

The drug rehabilitation center would require certification from the state Health Department.

Reopening the building would not require zoning approvals from the Town of Brookhaven but would require new building permits, site plan approval and variances for interior and exterior alterations, said incoming town Supervisor Dan Panico, adding the new owners have yet to submit any applications.

“We do not want to see empty, blighted buildings,” said Panico, currently a town councilman. “We want to see the property renovated [and] active and, as it no longer is a county property, on the tax rolls.”

Suffolk County said it is not involved in the development and the applicant would not need its approval.

Plans to sell the nursing home stretch back to the administration of then-County Executive Steve Levy, who in 2007 proposed unloading the property to help plug county budget gaps.

Three years later, the county legislature rejected a plan to sell the site for $36 million to Bronx nursing home operator Kenneth Rozenberg.

In 2012, County Executive Steve Bellone reached an agreement with another nursing home operator to sell Foley for $23 million. But that plan fell apart amid lawsuits filed by county lawmakers and the Association of Municipal Employees, which represented Foley workers.

The nursing home, which at the time was losing more than $1 million per month, closed in July 2013.

During the coronavirus crisis in 2020, Long Island Community Hospital offered the building as a temporary facility to house COVID-19 patients, although the Army Corps of Engineers chose sites that could be converted quicker.

Linda Petersen, a Yaphank civic leader, said the change in ownership — and the prospect that the site may finally return to active use — is a welcome development.

“I think that the people who live in that area would be very happy,” said Petersen, vice president of the Yaphank Taxpayers and Civic Association. “I think it’ll be great because it’s sitting there wasting anyway.”


1871: Suffolk County buys Yaphank farm to build an almshouse for the poor and destitute. New infirmary and hospital buildings are constructed in 1919 and 1937.

1995: Suffolk County legislators opt to build a new nursing facility at Yaphank, the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Center.

2008-2015: Several efforts to sell the home fail as the county searches for ways to close budget deficits. This included two offers from private nursing home operator Kenneth Rozenberg, both of which went nowhere.

September 2015: Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center makes $15 million offer; hospital would use the facility to provide dialysis, mental health and drug rehab services.  The center completes the purchase but never used the facility and it continued to sit vacant.

2022: NYU Langone merges with Long Island Community Hospital, formerly Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center.

December 2023: Empire Equities Capital LTD, a company that purchases vacant buildings, announces plans to buy the building and property for $7.6 million and make it a drug treatment center and nursing home. 

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