Today’s news:

Brooklyn realty firm buys St. John’s, Mary Immac

The properties that were once St. John’s and Mary Immaculate hospitals were purchased for $26.625 million by Brooklyn-based Guttman Realty at a bankruptcy auction in Manhattan last week, according to CB Richard Ellis.

CB Richard Ellis was the firm retained by Proskauer Rose, Caritas Health Care Inc.’s bankruptcy counsel, to conduct the auction. The bankrupt and shuttered Caritas owned the St. John’s site in Elmhurst and the Mary Immaculate property in Jamaica, both of which were placed up for sale in May.

“Despite a weak economy, these development sites sparked a heated and highly competitive bidding process,” said CBRE Vice President Larry Weiss. “Although driven to sell by bankruptcy, the excellent central Queens location of these sites, including outstanding public transportation and a dense residential and retail population, produced great buyer interest.”

The auction took place at Proskauer Rose’s midtown Manhattan office Friday. It was not open to the public.

St. John’s is a 257,500-square-foot site with an 86,400-square-foot garage and the Mary Immaculate site includes a 301,499-square-foot building and a 99,420-square-foot garage. Both properties are zoned for residential and/or commercial use.

Weiss said the buyer “envisions several options for redeveloping the Mary Immaculate site, including an educational facility, non-profit organization use, government operations or a religious facility.” The St. John’s property may be used for office building development.

“We have a concern and we’re keeping a careful eye on it,” said Dan Andrews, the Queens borough president’s spokesman, said of the properties. “The hope is there will be some medical use at those two sites — if not a hospital, then something that would provide medical care for the communities in both neighborhoods.”

At the end of February, Caritas Healthcare Network, which owned St. John’s and Mary Immaculate, filed for bankruptcy protection and began the process of liquidating its assets within weeks.

Borough President Helen Marshall has said her office led a concerted effort to save the two hospitals from closure butultimately funding was not available because Caritas Healthcare was deeply mired in more than $40 million in debt. Caritas is a nonprofit formed by Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, which purchased the two hospitals from the Saint Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers of New York in 2006.

According to bankruptcy court filings, Caritas’ financial woes began “from the date of formation” and the group quickly spiraled into debt.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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