Eastern Niagara Hospital will continue operations for 18 more months at its current site on East Avenue, during which time a broker from Hunt Real Estate will be marketing the property to buyers. At the end of that time period, the ENH building will be closed and Catholic Health will open the new Lockport Memorial Hospital – Campus of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital.
According to ENH President Anne McCaffrey, the hospital property was used as collateral to secure loans and, in January, a settlement agreement was made with a bank regarding those outstanding loans. At this time, no offers on the property have been submitted.
The situation left many residents questioning their aldermen. Joe Oates (R-First Ward), who is not running for reelection, as well as Rick Abbott (R-Fifth Ward) who is leaving the Common Council to run for a county legislature seat. The two city lawmakers held an informational meeting in Rogers Park on Saturday.
Oates identified the bank that will collect the selling price for the hospital property – $3.5 million – as Citizens Bank.
“Once the hospital leaves – Citizens Bank will be taking ownership,” Oates said in a phone interview with the US&J. “That is what they worked out in bankruptcy. That was the only asset they had was the building. They have a loan against it.”
“The hospital is in my ward,” Oates continued. “And right across the street there’s people in Rick’s ward and those are the people who will be the most affected with the changing of hands to the building.”
Oates said he and Abbott felt they had to tell these residents what they’d also learned from conversations with McCaffrey.
“The planning board would probably have to be involved with it,” Oates said. “The zoning board of appeals would probably have to be involved with it. So, anything that goes in there will have meetings at city hall. For now, we just told them what we know.”
McCaffrey wrote to the US&J that any plans proposed by any buyer will have to get approval from the ENH Board, the bank, and the zoning board. She noted that the hospital is in a residential zone and will require zoning review.
Legislator Anita Mullane (D), also attended the meeting because she was, “curious about any new information they might have.” She noted that very few people were there and that it seemed that some neighbors got flyers and others did not. Mullane and Abbott are both running for the 13th District in the Niagara County Legislature.
“That’s not transparency,” she said.
Mullane said other Democrats running for office,such as Jon Wiley, Maggie Lupo and Paul Beakman, as well as Pat McGrath, deputy corporation counsel for the City of Lockport, also showed up, but no new information was issued.
“The selling price for the property is $3.5 million and it will go to Citizens Bank for the loans,” Mullane said. “That was it.”
Oates said the meeting’s purpose was to inform the most impacted people of what he knew, because of what the neighborhood had already lost and because he was a part of that neighborhood.
“It’s a big building, it could be used for a lot of things,” he said, noting he was not going away and would be in the First Ward when those 18 months ran out.
“There’s a lot of options. … All the possibilities are out there. … We had Washington Hunt School there (in the nieghborhood), and it’s gone, and now the hospital is going. Those are two main functions in the neighborhood and we’re losing both,” he said. “So, it’s a hit to the neighborhood.”
The new Lockport Memorial Campus will be erected off South Transit Road between Shimer Drive and Ruhlmann Road. The entrance will be off Shimer Drive. Design is underway by the architectural design firm Clark Lee Patterson.