NYU Langone: Former Sears Transforms into $170 Million Healthcare Hub Garden City

Garden City

NYU Langone: Former Sears Transforms into $170 Million Healthcare Hub Garden City

Downtown Garden City, traditionally the home of posh restaurants, luxury clothing stores and trendy taverns, is now home also to an entity few in the upscale village probably ever imagined – a giant healthcare facility.

NYU Langone, one of the largest healthcare facilities in the New York metropolitan area, has taken over the empty, stand-alone Bloomingdale’s and Sears complex of stores –both have been closed for years – and in January opened a $170 million,  ambulatory center, spanning an entire block at 1111 Franklin Avenue, in the heart of the historic village.

“This medical facility is a nice addition to our vibrant downtown,” Garden City Village Mayor Mary Carter Flanagan said. “We look forward to building a long-standing relationship with our newest community member.”

NYU Langone’s move is the latest in a series of steps by healthcare facilities to expand – and compete with one another for space – on Long Island.

Last summer, Mount Sinai South Nassau opened a new ambulatory medical facility in Long Beach, on the grounds of the nearly century-old Long Beach Hospital, which was extensively damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The new facility is close to Mount Sinai’s main campus on Long Island, in Oceanside.

Also last summer, Stony Brook Medicine opened what it calls its “most expansive” outpatient care facility, Advanced Specialty Care at Lake Grove, at Smith Haven Mall.

“They’re competing for business,” Dr. Martin Cantor, director of the Long Island Center for Socio-Economic Policy, in Melville, told the Press. “On Long Island, healthcare is a big business. It’s one of the growing economic centers.”

The larger a provider gets, Cantor said, the more eligible it is for larger insurance reimbursements.

Competition is becoming more and more a part of life for the healthcare industry on Long Island.

“It is a competitive marketplace,” said Wendy Darwell, president and chief executive of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, in Hauppauge.

The high cost of retail space on the Island makes it difficult to expand sites, so buying existing buildings, as NYU Langone did in Garden City, makes more sense.

Additionally, Darwell said, “This is no longer a world where you can have a box and stop there. You need to go where people are.”

Retail sites, such as the old Bloomingdale-Sears complex, is ideal, since stores are generally built near parking lots and bus stops.

And, she said, Long Island’s aging population makes healthcare a vital industry here.

“Healthcare is at the core of the economy now,” she said.

Rosemary Gomez, a spokeswoman for NYU Langone, noted that the new Garden City ambulatory care center is about a mile or so away from NYU Langone Hospital, in Mineola, which used to be known as Winthrop Hospital. Winthrop merged with NYU Langone in 2017.

Patients could easily be transferred from one site to another, if needed, she said.

“This [Garden City center] is a way of upscaling both buildings,” she said, adding that the new center is more a way to provide patient services than to compete with other hospitals.

NYU Langone’s location in Garden City is a colossus. It is a 260,000-square-foot facility that houses 32 clinical specialties. NYU Langone said more than 800 staff and doctors will ultimately care for 400,000 patients each year. The center includes 260 patient exam rooms and a new expanded adult ophthalmology service.

“NYU Langone continues to deepen its relationship with Long Island, establishing a stronghold for its special brand of excellence,” said Michael Rafferty, a member of NYU Langone’s board of directors.

NYU Langone has 70 medical sites on Long Island, and a total of 300 outpatient sites across the New York metropolitan area.

It is not done expanding on Long Island. Last spring, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said NYU Langone is considering building a $3 billion-plus medical center on more than 40 acres at Nassau County Community College.

“We are going to enter into negotiations to talk about that possibility,” Blakeman said at the time.

But the giant of them all remains Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York State, with 23 hospitals and more than 700 outpatient facilities, as well as the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra and the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.  Northwell has more than 81,000 employees, and shows no sign of losing its appetite for further expansion.

NYU Langone took the old department store buildings on Franklin Avenue and turned them into eye-pleasing sights. Windows were installed in the garage wall, an outdoor garden was created, and trees were planted along Franklin.

John Wilton, president of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce, said that he is pleased, so far at least.

“I haven’t had time yet to see what residents think,” Wilton said. “But they did a fabulous job on the exterior. It’s an upgrade. I would not perceive this as a minus.”

When Sears moved in to Garden City in 1996, it created somewhat of a stir in the village, among some residents who did not think the low-budget department store fit the decor of the tony village shops. A medical site is more likely to be welcomed, some in the village say.