Parkway Hospital’s redevelopment plan has a pulse

After years of stalled proposals, new owners seek residential mix at shuttered Forest Hills site

New York /
Jun.June 03, 2021 12:00 PM
Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, Top Rock Holdings' Uri Mermelstein, Joseph Yushuvayev and SYU Properties' Josif Elishayev (Google Maps, LinkedIn, Getty)

Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, Top Rock Holdings’ Uri Mermelstein, Joseph Yushuvayev and SYU Properties’ Josif Elishayev (Google Maps, LinkedIn, Getty)

Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills closed for good in 2008, and since then attempts to redevelop the 100,000-square-foot building and surrounding property have all flatlined.

Now, after a series of foreclosure auctions and scrapped proposals, a plan for its future has emerged.

A trio of new owners wants to redevelop the six-story building, with affordable units for seniors on those floors and newly built market-rate apartments over it. They would also build a 250,000-square-foot condo tower next to it, on the property.

The joint venture — SYU Properties, Top Rock Holdings and RJ Capital — paid $31.7 million last week for the site at 70-35 113th Street. The seller, Auberge Grand Central, once had grand dreams of its own for a residential conversion.

For the new owners, the deal delivers 360,000 square feet in total development rights.

The proposed project is part of a trend in the city that has seen developers transform shuttered hospitals into residential complexes. Of the 18 hospitals New York has lost in the past 20 years, at least seven have been redeveloped into housing, according to a report in 6sqft. If built, Parkway would mark the third Queens hospital converted to residential in that period.

The road to get there has been long.

The only privately-owned hospital in the city, Parkway opened in 1963 and shuttered 45 years later after a state-issued mandate. Facing foreclosure, then owner Robert Aquino pleaded guilty in 2012 to bribing former state Sen. Carl Kruger to keep the facility open. The same year, following bankruptcy and foreclosure cases, Auberge and Jasper Venture Group paid $6.5 million to buy the defaulted mortgage.

And in 2014, Auberge and Jasper paid another $1 million to buy the property outright at auction, with hopes of building condominiums. Then came the restrictions: existing zoning only allowed for single-family homes or institutions.

The new owners tried and failed to unload Parkway in 2015. They then sought a rezoning — first with plans for a 351-unit residential complex — and ended up getting city approval in 2019. Stipulations called for the hospital building redevelopment to include affordable housing geared for seniors. And any new residential development on the property would have to include 10 percent of units set aside as affordable. At the time, there was talk of the new building rising 14 stories with 216 units.

Today, Top Rock principal Uri Mermelstein said the team, with architect SLCE, hasn’t settled on a unit count for the buildings, though he expects the new development would rise 15 or 16 stories and include views of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. They also haven’t decided whether to sell the senior living portion to a nonprofit.

“We’re still up in the air,” he said, but added the new units will meet a growing demand for housing in the area.





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