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New offer made to buy former Suffolk nursing home

The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility, located

The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility, located in Yaphank, is seen here on March 27, 2013. Credit: Doug Kuntz / Doug Kuntz

A major New York nursing home operator, who walked away from a $36 million deal to buy Suffolk's John J. Foley nursing home four years ago, is back with a new offer to buy the now-shuttered and unlicensed 264-bed Yaphank complex for $20 million.

Kenneth Rozenberg, chief executive of the Bronx-based Centers Health Care, made the offer in an email to the county executive's office late Tuesday. The offer, however, is contingent on getting approval from the state to reopen Foley as a nursing home as well as getting zoning approval from Brookhaven to operate the five-story building as a private nursing facility.

"We are interested in relocating beds from some nursing homes that we currently operate (or may acquire) in other areas to this Yaphank location, as this larger, more modern facility would no doubt allow for state of the art nursing and rehab care and even greater patient satisfaction," said Rozenberg, whose firm operates 20 nursing homes with 3,800 beds in the state.

Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider, in a letter to county lawmakers, called the new offer "very welcome news," saying it would not only provide the county with nearly twice as much money as originally expected, but eliminate $700,000 in annual upkeep costs for an empty building and put the property on the tax rolls, generating about $500,000 a year.

The new offer comes after the Bellone administration last month told lawmakers they must decide on a sale before the 2016 budget is presented in September because the county's outside auditors have said Suffolk can no longer operate the fund that financed the nursing home in 2016. If there is no sale, they say the county must write off the loss and taxpayers could see a tax impact.

The administration had budgeted for an $11.25 million sale this year to Kenneth Gaul, owner of 166-bed Woodhaven Nursing Home in Port Jefferson Station, who made the "only viable offer" and had signed a letter of intent with the county Feb. 14, 2014.

"Having met with the county well over a year ago and having agreed to stand down at their request . . . I find it a little disappointing they are fielding additional offers," Gaul said. He said he will have to consult with his attorney to determine if his offer should legally stand.

County officials had asked Gaul last year to stand by while the legislature considered other options, including a sale to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center or using the site for drug rehabilitation and dialysis. However, Justin Meyers, a spokesman for County Executive Steve Bellone, said Gaul's letter of intent has expired and the county has no legal obligation to complete that deal.

Legis. Kate Browning (WFP-Shirley), who has been in talks over Foley with Bellone aides as recently as last week, criticized them for failing to disclose new talks with Rozenberg. Meyers said there were no talks, just a call two weeks ago in which Rozenberg expressed renewed interest.

Richard Margulies, president and CEO of Brookhaven Memorial, said he was "deeply disappointed" that ongoing talks with the county "are going to end" given the hospital's "genuine interest" in coming up with a plan to make use of the former nursing home.

Rozenberg had no comment yesterday but an aide said he expects to make a statement within several days.

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