PBMC Buys Old McGann-Mercy Site

James J. Mackin
Peconic Bay Medical Center reportedly acquired its sought-after neighbor, the former McGann-Mercy High School property.

An on-again, off-again courtship ended in union this week when Peconic Bay Medical Center announced the purchase of the former McGann-Mercy High School property.

According to a May 4 published report, the Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation paid the Diocese of Rockville Centre $14 million for the 24-acre site. The hospital, in need of space, was considered the primary suitor when the school closed its doors in 2018.

But talks quickly stalled when the Town of Riverhead also expressed interest.

Earlier this year, fearing it wouldn’t be able to handle the large influx of COVID-19 patients, hospital management reached out to the diocese to lease some land. Apparently, that led to more fruitful discussions.

“In the spirit of ongoing community benefit and investment, the Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation is pleased to have reached an agreement with the Diocese of Rockville Centre for the purchase of the former Bishop McGann-Mercy High School property,” said Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation President and CEO Andrew Mitchell. “The foundation looks forward to working with the medical center and the Town of Riverhead to develop future plans recognizing the growing and diverse health care needs of the East End.”

According to published reports, a private group, Friends of East End Catholic Education, was interested in purchasing the property and reviving the high school, but backed away after it learned another entity had made an offer in excess of $10 million. Riverhead Superintendent Dr. Aurelia L. Henriquez and Deputy Superintendent Sam Schneider sent Bishop John Barres and John Renker, the general counsel for the diocese, a letter on May 10, 2018.

“We have great interest in acquiring the property,” the pair wrote. “We have the education resources and
financial need.”

One caveat, taxpayers, who recently turned down an expansion bond, would have to approve any purchase deal. Riverhead school officials continued to discuss the purchase until recently.

“Since 1956, this property has been devoted to education and service to the community,” said longtime community member Emilie Roy Corey, who is chair of the medical center foundation board. “We are happy to have concluded our negotiations with the Diocese of Rockville Centre so that we may proceed in planning for the continuation of service to the community with much-needed expanded health care services.”

Peconic Bay Medical Center’s ongoing expansion of clinical programs and services, including the recent opening of the Corey Critical Care Pavilion and Kanas Regional Heart Center, underscores the hospital’s ongoing need for additional space as it continues to evolve into the regional medical center for the East End.

“Knowing that this property, which has been dormant since the school closed, will in the future provide much-needed health care for the community, will be a great tribute to Saint Catherine McCauley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy,” said Sean Dolan, director of communications for the diocese.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre purchased the 24.8-acre site on Ostrander Avenue from the Sisters of Mercy in Brooklyn in January 2006 for $3.76 million, according to public property records.

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