Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has decided to sell the former John J. Foley nursing home to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center for $15 million after a private nursing home operator withdrew a $20 million bid.
"We have reached out to Brookhaven Hospital and expect to begin discussions on a contract which we hope to move along as quickly as possible," said Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider, who notified the hospital of Bronx nursing home operator Kenneth Rozenberg's withdrawal about 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Rozenberg, who had backed out of a $36 million offer to buy Foley four years ago, withdrew his offer after the administration forwarded him letters signed by 17 of 18 county legislators backing the sale to Brookhaven Hospital. Rozenberg, in an Oct. 9 letter to the county, said he was withdrawing because, "it appears that the local community, through their representatives in the legislature, believe there is an alternative option that may better service their needs at this time."
"We're happy and thrilled that the county is willing to begin negotiations," said Richard Margulis, hospital president and chief executive. "And we look forward to the future of this project . . . We feel we offer the best value to the residents of the county and the county itself."
If successful, the sale will mark the end of a yearslong effort by the county to divest itself of the 264-bed nursing home that bore the name of the late county legislator John J. Foley.
Bellone and former county executive Steve Levy tried unsuccessfully to sell the home, which opened in 1995, as they sought to close county budget deficits.
The nonprofit Brookhaven Memorial proposed last month to take over the five-story facility in Yaphank to provide "vitally needed outpatient services" including dialysis, Medicaid assisted living, pediatric services, adult day care and drug rehabilitation.
The hospital made the offer after receiving a gift from an anonymous donor, whom sources identified as Priscilla Knapp Teich, whose family owned the former Swezey's department stores.
Margulis said hospital officials have done a preliminary walk-through at Foley and understand "certain upgrades may be needed and we are prepared for that." He said the hospital will seek a four-month period for hospital engineers and architects to determine whether unexpected major work is necessary.
"I'm glad to hear it. It's the best option for the community," said Legis. Kate Browning (WFP-Shirley).
Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), who had lobbied Bellone to accept Brookhaven's offer, said, "It took a lot of poking and prodding to work our way through it, but we got to a point where they [the administration] felt comfortable" with the offer.
Calarco said it was unclear how much the county would have netted from Rozenberg's bid. Bellone's 2016 budget already had discounted $1.1 million from Rozenberg's offer due to the cost of real estate commissions and a $500,000 development fee required by Brookhaven Town for rezonings.
Calarco said that with the sale to Brookhaven, Foley's name will remain on the building. Foley's family in the past had told the county to remove his name in the event of a sale to a private operator.
"I can tell you for a fact the Foley family will be happy," Calarco said.
John J. Foley Nursing Home
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.
2008-13: Several efforts to sell the home fail as the county searches for ways to close budget deficits.
July 2015: Private nursing home operator Kenneth Rozenberg makes a $20 million offer.
September: Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center makes $15 million offer; hospital would use the facility to provide dialysis, mental health and drug rehab services.
Oct. 14: Bellone decides to sell to Brookhaven.