6.27.05 Westchester County Business Journal

By ALEX PHILIPPIDIS ??

The former St. Agnes Hospital campus in White Plains would be transformed into a complex of 410 units and 60 nursing beds for senior citizens with varying needs, under a development plan submitted to city officials last week. ?

North Street Community L.L.C. on June 22 was to present Mayor Joseph M. Delfino and the city‘s Common Council with its conceptual plan for the 23-acre campus on North Street.The developer is asking Delfino and the council for approvals to build 390 new units for independent seniors at the southwestern corner of the campus, now occupied by several small-service buildings that would be razed. The age limit is now envisioned at 55 years old and up, though it could be raised to 65 and up.

Plans also call for renovating the existing main hospital building of about 150,000 square feet into 20 units for seniors needing assistance with daily living and 60 skilled nursing acute-care beds. The units would occupy about half the former hospital building, with the remaining 60,000 square feet to be converted to offices of medical practices specializing in outpatient services needed by seniors.

C.J. Follini, managing member of North Street Community, said he was encouraged by a market study showing demand for 1,700 senior-housing units in a section of Westchester stretching from Croton-on-Hudson to Bedford to Yonkers. White Plains is within that area. “With the demand we‘ve seen in just a small market area, we think we‘re able to do it in one phase,” Follini said. ?

He said the density of independent units was needed to sustain the assisted-living and nursing components of the project: “You need critical mass to support all that infrastructure. To do a smaller number may jeopardize the success of a project that will include significant health-care offerings.”

Construction would take two years following approvals. The cost of the project has not been calculated, except that it will be “in excess of $100 million,” Follini said.

SEEKING REZONING ?

North Street Community wants the council to rezone the campus by creating a new special permit category that would allow its senior development. The St. Agnes property is now zoned for one-family houses on lots of at least 12,500 square feet, with only hospitals allowed by special permit. ?

The St. Agnes proposal will be presented this week to neighbors at a meeting set for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at White Plains High School. ?

Follini said North Street Community is close to selecting a nonprofit operator for the assisted units and nursing beds. Among operators being considered, he said, were Beth Abraham Health Services and The Jewish Home and Hospital Lifecare System, two health-care providers disclosed last April.

An existing nonprofit tenant, the Children‘s Rehabilitation Center, would continue operating on campus. The developers would build a jogging path nearby, on the property‘s southern portion. ?

St. Agnes shut down in October 2003, succumbing to years of financial troubles including a $7 million loss during its final six months of operation by Westchester Medical Center.?The hospital got into trouble after a previous owner, the Catholic Health Care System, could not repay a $35.95 million mortgage issued in 2001 by the state Dormitory Authority for a renovation project. The authority foreclosed on the mortgage, then held an auction last December in which North Street Community placed a surprise winning bid of $21. 4 million outlasting a trio of developers led by Joseph Simone‘s Simone Development Cos. of New Rochelle.

However, the Simone-led venture is in contract to buy a ground lease for one building within the hospital campus the 85,000-square-foot 311 North St. from its owner, New York Medical College.