Residents sue over Prospect Park Residence closure

Department of Health erred in approving closure plan, plaintiffs say

Residents slapped Prospect Park Residence with a lawsuit Friday morning, looking to halt the senior assisted-living facility’s planned closure.

The group’s suit in Brooklyn State Supreme Court says the Department of Health erred in approving the closure plan, which was announced in March along with the news that residents had 90 days to move before the facility closes. The suit, which also accuses the residence operator of already cutting back on essential services and not helping residents find new housing, aims to force the DOH to force the residence operator to keep Prospect Park Residence open, at least temporarily.

“The plan is completely pro forma, and what the Department of Health did was basically rubber-stamp it,” Judith Goldiner, the Legal Aid Society attorney representing the seven residents along with MFY Legal Services and the law firm Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, told the New York Times.

Around 120 people lived in the assisted-living facility at 1 Prospect Park West until residents began moving out in recent weeks, the Times reported. Those who remain suspect the owner, Haysha Deitsch, has plans to sell the property to a developer looking to convert the building into luxury apartments. Deitsch has not made any plans public.

Paul Larrabee, a spokesperson for Deitsch, told the Times that the property’s growing tax burden and maintenance costs require upgrades that cost more than $2 million, rendering the building too expensive to operate.

“Despite concerns to the contrary, the closure plan and the transfer of residents to alternate living arrangements has been compliant and seamless,” Larrabee told the Times. “Any claims of deception or fraud are without merit and we will vigorously defend our actions.”

The DOH did not respond to the Times’ request for comment. [NYT]Julie Strickland