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PBMC CEO says acquisition of former Mercy property ‘sets up the potential for future growth’

The Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation has acquired the adjacent McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School property, which has sat vacant since the school closed in June 2018.

The 24-acre acre property was acquired from the Diocese of Rockville Centre for $14 million in a deal that closed on Friday, according to Andrew Mitchell, PBMC’s President and CEO.

The acquisition was first reported by riverheadlocal.com.

The hospital currently has no plans in place for the land, other than for parking. But that won’t always been the case.

“Given that it’s 23 acres of land contiguous to the hospital, it was important for future generations to expand,” Mr. Mitchell said in an interview Monday.

“It’s just exciting,” he said. “It sets up the potential for future growth of the hospital for generations to come.”

He said the 24 acres could be a whole bunch of things.

“The options are limitless given the size of the campus, but we have not sat down in an organized way to determine a master plan for the entirety of the campus, including the main campus, the 24 acres and the Entenmann Campus (on Second Street in Riverhead).”

PBMC CEO Andrew Mitchell at a January event. (Credit: Mahreen Khan/file)

The hospital had leased a small portion of the Mercy parking lot for parking over the years. It also recently had been shuttling employees to and from the hospital from the former Walmart parking lot on Route 58. 

“But more recently, when COVID-19 hit, and we didn’t want to put our employees on the shuttle buses,” Mr. Mitchell said. “So we reached out to the Diocese and leased more of the parking in the back.”

PBMC, which is part of the Northwell Health system, recently opened the Corey Critical Care Pavilion and the Kanas Regional Heart Center on its main campus, and has recently been working on a design for the expansion of the Emergency Department for Trauma, Mr. Mitchell said. 

Mr. Mitchell said he has walked through the Mercy building.

“I would say it’s dated,” he said. “But the bones of the building are terrific. But it’s a 1950s building, so it’s somewhat dated.”

The PBMC Foundation is a philanthropic arm of the hospital, which raises  funds in support of the hospital’s work.

“Since 1956 this property has been devoted to education and service to the community,” said Emilie Roy Corey, the chair of the PBMC Foundation board, in a press release. “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.”

“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 of Rockville Centre.

The Riverhead Central School District had explored purchasing the property but instead opted to propose a bond to expand its current facilities, which official said would be more cost effective. That bond was voted down by voters in February.

Shortly after the announcement that the school would close in 2018, a group of parents and community members tried to formulate a plan for an independent Catholic high school at the location known as a STREAM school, which stands for science, technology, religion, engineering, art and mathematics.