The city’s newspapers are beginning to pay more attention to the shuttering of the Bialystoker Nursing home on East Broadway. Last week, the Wall Street Journal filed a fairly innocuous piece that went into some detail about the facility’s financial troubles. Yesterday, the Post weighed in with the tabloid treatment.
The stars of their eye catching photo spread are 88-year old Mildred Mondshein, a Bialystoker resident, and Ira Mesiter (inset), the board chairman. The headline reads, “Sale rakes in ‘old money,’ real estate meanie to close nursing home.”
Here’s what the Post reports concerning Mesiter’s purchase of an office building next door to the nursing home, which Bialystoker owned until a year ago:
…the demise of the Bialystoker Center has been a boon for one of its board members — real-estate magnate Ira Meister picked up a four-story commercial building owned by the nursing home last year in a no-bid insider deal… Meister is the chairman of the Bialystoker board that’s charged with keeping the senior center financially sound. But that didn’t stop him from buying the commercial property at 232 East Broadway for $1.5 million in an all-cash deal that never was up for bid on the open market.
The Post story breaks some new ground in another respect. Reporter Ginger Adams Otis got a response from the board (its first public statement regarding the closure):
The Bialystoker board said Meister’s purchase was made as a last-ditch effort to help save the nonprofit nursing home, which is $8.5 million in debt and hemorrhaging $100,000 a month, according to board spokeswoman Virginia Lam. Meister plans to lease it to a community group for two years while renovating it, she said. Then he’ll move his private real estate company — Matthew Adam Properties in Midtown — to the Lower East Side.
The story also points out that elected officials, who often come running when senior services are threatened, have been awfully quiet about the Bialystoker closure:
The residents are also miffed no local pols spoke up for the fabled Jewish institution, built in 1928 and later a haven for many Holocaust survivors. “I think all the politicians have forgotten us — they only remember us when it’s time to vote,” said Mondshein.
Employees are other supporters of the nursing home are holding a protest tomorrow at 2 p.m., in front of the Bialystoker center, 228 East Broadway. The plan is to march down to the State Attorney General’s office at 120 Broadway. At a ally earlier this month, protesters held up signs demanding the AG investigate Meister.
As we have reported, the Bialystoker board has put the home on the market, listing it with Grubb & Ellis as a residential development site.