The Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals voted to approve the Mount Sinai medical office building at 2020 Wantagh Avenue at their May 11 meeting. The board has voted to accept the variances Mount Sinai applied for.
Board Chairman David Weiss said he spent time since the previous meeting on April 28 driving around the site to get an idea of what the traffic patterns could look like. He maintained that since the building has operated at full capacity before when it was a Verizon office, that it can be done again with some adjustments to prevent increased traffic in residential areas.
“Personally, I think that the inclusion of this facility there would be a major positive for the Wantagh community, but we have to take into account the impact it’s going to have on the local residents,” Weiss said.
Weiss added a stipulation for Mount Sinai to go forward with the facility. He asked that Mount Sinai make the entrance on Jones Avenue closest to the residential area an employee only entrance and exit to help limit the effects of traffic on locals and provide more parking spaces.
That caveat has been accepted by Mount Sinai, who issued a statement on Monday morning. “Mount Sinai South Nassau is pleased that the Town of Hempstead’s zoning board has approved for the work to begin on the renovation of the Wantagh medical office building, which will bring world class specialty care to the southeastern communities along the South Shore, including a women’s center, cancer, diabetes, pediatrics and cardiac services – all under one roof – for the convenience of patients and their families. We look forward to working with and serving the community.”
The board approved of the variance requested by Mount Sinai for 250 spots. Mount Sinai will also be fixing the building’s façade, which had fallen into disrepair through water damage and wear and tear over time. The construction is expected to take about 18 months.
“This building will go a long way to saving lives of the residents of the South shore of Long island.” Co-Chairman on the hospital’s board of directors Tony Cancellieri said.
Mount Sinai will spend $35 million to convert the 60,000 square-foot building into a state-of-the-art, multispecialty health care center, which will offer services in cardiology, radiology, neurology, dermatology, and more. It will include approximately 50 private patient examination and consultation rooms staffed by around 30 doctors and 50 support staff members.
The building will not include drug treatment, behavioral health services, ambulance bays, or overnight hospital beds. It’s expected to operate between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, with the possibility of evenings and Saturdays in the future.
At the April 28 meeting, supporters and opponents of the plans made their cases to the board. Wantagh resident Leonard Cohen offered his support.
“To have something like this in our neighborhood would be an extreme positive,” Cohen said. “Right now, I go to a cardiologist in Rockville Centre, an endocrinologist in Merrick. I go to the hospital for my laboratory services. This would be an absolute asset for the neighborhood.”
Wantagh resident and opponent to the Mount Sinai plans Stephen Lucchese noted his concerns to the board at that same meeting.
“Not only does knocking down homes change the landscape and character of this town but will also remove two more properties from our tax roll, as Mount Sinai is a not-for-profit entity,” Lucchese said. “Mount Sinai has the right idea, but they have the wrong location.”
Lucchese worried about Mount Sinai’s non-profit status. The building’s former tenant, Verizon, paid over $350,000 in taxes on the building in 2016 with some of that money going to the school district, public library, and police and fire departments.
Mount Sinai has argued, as Weiss agreed, that the health benefits to the local community will make up for that.