Cabrini Building May Be Resold to For-Profit Operator, Remain a Nursing Home

CabriniStephen Rex Brown

A letter sent from Kenneth Fisher to local politicians indicates that the attorney’s client, Benjamin Shaoul’s Magnum Real Estate Group, may be close to reselling the property that houses the Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, which Magnum recently purchased for $25.5 million. With a new for-profit operator in the mix, the deal would allay fears that the building will be replaced by condos, and would help insure that it continue to be used as a nursing home.

The letter was sent on Wednesday to State Senator Daniel Squadron and other politicians who had earlier written to Mr. Fisher reiterating their position that “any future use of the building should retain nursing home beds on the Lower East Side.” In his response, Mr. Fisher indicated that on Dec. 6, he was advised by a lawyer representing Cabrini that an earlier plan to relocate the not-for-profit nursing home had fallen through, and the Center was now negotiating to be purchased by a for-profit operator that might also be able to purchase the building from Magnum.

The letter (reprinted below) indicates that Magnum has agreed to terms with the potential new operator, though a contract has yet to be signed and the operator must first close a deal to take over the nursing home from Cabrini. “After some discussion, and recognizing the urgency of the situation, the parties reached an understanding of what will be necessary for the transaction to occur,” reads the letter, referring to Magnum and the new operator, who has not been named. “In other words, subject to the execution of the contract, and associated steps, the operator and the Owner have no material issues separating them. However, the operator has reserved his right not to proceed unless he is able to immediately conclude an agreement with Cabrini to acquire the business operation.”

During a telephone conversation with The Local, Mr. Fisher said, “We have attempted to be responsive and creative out of respect for the Archdiocese and the elected officials. If we’re successful, a nursing home will continue at that location. Otherwise, the property will be put to as-of-right use.”

As-of-right development does not require discretionary action by the City Planning Commission or Board of Standards and Appeals. Mr. Fisher would not reveal his client’s exact plans for such development, if it goes ahead, but the letter indicates that Mr. Shaoul’s company has already secured financing and is in the design phase.

As for which outcome he foresees, Mr. Fisher said, “I can’t say with any degree of certainty how this is going to play out because the ball is now firmly in the prospective operator and Cabrini’s court.”

Cabrini was not immediately available for comment. A statement from Council Member Margaret S. Chin, e-mailed by a representative, read, “I’m cautiously optimistic hearing this news. The best outcome here is Cabrini remaining a senior living facility, and I’m interested to know more about the plans for the building.”

Update | 3:10 p.m. Through a representative, via e-mail, State Senator Daniel Squadron said, “Preserving nursing home beds on the Lower East Side has been our priority, and we’re open to different proposals that do that.”

Letter from Kenneth Fisher