The sounds of jackhammers and heavy equipment are not a sign of renovation or new construction at 51-15 Beach Channel Drive. Instead behind the green plywood barricades that surround it Peninsula Hospital Center is being torn down.
The 173-bed Rockaway healthcare complex opened in 1908 as Peninsula General Hospital. Despite heavy community protests it closed in 2012, leaving St. John’s Episcopal in Far Rockaway as the peninsula’s sole hospital facility.
Back then the New York Times reported that “the troubled Peninsula Hospital Center closed, unable to stay solvent after its lab failed a state exam and was shut down by the New York State Health Department, which said the lab was dangerous for patients.” The NYSHD decision is still a source of controversy today.
As the formerly derelict building comes down plans for the property's future use are going up.
In May, New York real estate magazine The Read Deal reported that the Arker Companies and their partner the Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation bought the site, “with 760,000 buildable square feet,” and an adjacent lot for $19 million.
According to Katie Honan at DNAinfo, city records show that the property was sold by Congregation Zichron Yitzchok Vmoshe Eliyahu, a non-profit based in Borough Park and owned by Yosef "Joseph" Brunner. They in turn originally bought it at a bankruptcy sale conducted after the hospital closed in 2012.
Last year the Arker Companies started construction on an affordable housing site for low-income seniors in Bayswater.
As for the now soon to be gone Peninsula Hospital, Honan noted “the new owners plan to build multi-family housing and commercial buildings, according to paperwork filed with the city.”
As demolition goes on, the Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center next door remains open and operational. Contrary to concerns at the time, it did not close when the hospital did and has remained in business since. Internal renovations are now underway to offer additional outpatient-type services at PNRC.
In the meantime the sounds of Peninsula Hospital Center coming down can be heard for blocks around. The disappearance of this Rockaway institution, along with memories of the community service it provided, can be felt all across the peninsula.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS