NYC Real Estate News

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 08:48

Rents were down slightly across the board in the city last month, and apartment hunters in the outer boroughs seemed particularly eager to take advantage.

The median rent in Manhattan dropped year over year in March for the first time in four months, falling to $4,100, down month over month as well following a surprisingly strong February, according to the report from Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel. However, this was still the second-highest rent on record for the month.

The market also saw its highest share of bidding wars in almost two years, with 1 in 5 apartments leasing for more than the landlord's asking price, said Miller Samuel CEO and report author Jonathan Miller.

"Even though inventory is rising, it's still not enough," Miller said. "I think that's the challenge."

The borough's listing inventory for March was at 7,639 apartments, down 4.1% month over month but up 20% year over year, while the vacancy rate fell slightly to about 2.4%, according to the report. New lease signings rose month over month, to 4,775, their third-highest ever for March but still slightly lower than March 2023, the report says.

In Brooklyn, the median rent was effectively flat month over month and year over year, at $3,495, the report says. It did technically rise year over year by just 0.1%, marking the fourth time in five months it has increased. The number of new leases signed reached a record high of 3,082, up sharply month over month and year over year, while the listing inventory went up to 3,870, the sixth time in seven months it saw an annual increase.

In northwest Queens, the median rent was down slightly year over year and month over month, at $3,200, the second time in three months it went down annually. New lease signings were also the highest on record at 704, while listing inventory rose to 717, up more than 30% month over month and year over year.

The record-setting leasing levels in Brooklyn and Queens were likely due to their slight price drops, along with stubbornly high mortgage rates keeping more people in the rental market and stubbornly high Manhattan rents pushing more people to look in other parts of the city, according to Miller.

"Manhattan isn't getting cheaper," he said, "and I think it's shifted some inbound demand that would have gone to Manhattan to the outer boroughs."

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 08:00
Construction is closing in on the pinnacle of 50 West 66th Street, a 69-story residential skyscraper on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Designed by Snøhetta with SLCE Architects as the executive architect and developed by Extell and Tennor Holding, the 775-foot-tall structure will yield 127 condominium units and claim the title of the tallest building in the neighborhood. Lendlease is the general contractor for the project, which is located on an interior lot between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West with frontage on both West 65th and West 66th Streets.
Thu, 04/11/2024 - 07:30
Renovations are complete on 51W52, also known as Black Rock, an office building at 51 West 52nd Street in Midtown Manhattan. Harbor Group International completed the $128 overhaul of the 38-story structure, which was originally designed by Eero Saarinen as the headquarters for CBS and yields 900,000 square feet of interior space.
Thu, 04/11/2024 - 07:00
The affordable housing lottery has launched for 451 Tenth Avenue, a 44-story residential skyscraper in Manhattan's Hudson Yards. Designed by Handel Architects and developed by Related Companies, the structure yields 270 residences. Available on NYC Housing Connect are 135 units for residents at 40, 60, and 120 percent of the area median income (AMI), ranging in eligible income from $29,075 to $183,000.
Thu, 04/11/2024 - 06:30
Permits have been filed for a four-story residential building at 1119 42nd Street in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Located between 12th Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway, the lot is a short walk to the Fort Hamilton Parkway subway station, serviced by the D train. Issac Deutsch of BB Empire Corp. is listed as the owner behind the applications.
Thu, 04/11/2024 - 06:03

When New Yorkers were recently surveyed about their top concerns for state lawmakers, the number one issue was affordability: housing and rent, child care, groceries, health care, transportation — just paying for the basics of life.

It’s understandable and it’s real; almost everyone has been hit by record inflation after the pandemic.

What many folks haven’t realized is that a major aspect of these rising prices is corporate greed: “greedflation” by huge, powerful, and profitable corporations accounts for over half of increased costs for consumers

That’s one reason why there’s a class of New Yorkers who have no problem affording the basics, the extras, the luxuries, and the extravagances: the billionaires and millionaires of Wall Street who are enjoying bigger bonuses, greater wealth, and extraordinary profits at the corporations they own or control.

And that’s why you should reject the fearmongering from their paid lobbyists who say that the most important thing state government can do is take care of rich people who work in the finance and securities industries.

New York is the most economically unequal state in the country: the average income of the bottom 99% is $49,617, while the average income of the top 1% is $2.2 million.

And New York is home to the highest concentration of extreme wealth in the nation. Over 28,000 tax filers hoard wealth in excess of $30 million, over 15,000 tax filers hoard wealth in excess of $100 million and 130 billionaires hoard over $666 billion.

The ultra-rich in New York State collectively hold $6.7 trillion in wealth – they’re not hurting. The rest of us are.

Meanwhile, Black and brown working-class families and everyday workers making $32,000 to $65,000 a year — are leaving the state in droves in search of a more affordable life. It’s no wonder we’re losing nurses, home health care workers, small business owners, and child care providers — the people who keep this state running.

Extreme inequality, extreme poverty, and extreme wealth are getting worse because of government policies that serve as a “wealth pump,” driving all the benefits of a growing economy higher and higher up to a tiny minority of billionaires and multimillionaires.

It’s good that Albany lawmakers want to take things in a different direction.

In 2021, New York reformed our tax laws so millionaires and big corporations paid more in taxes, generating $10 billion in new public funds to invest in our communities. That paid for emergency rental assistance, aid to public schools, unemployment benefits for “excluded workers” and a $1 billion fund to support small businesses — things that made our state and economy more balanced and more fair.

The billionaires and millionaires didn’t leave — we got more of both. The modest tax hikes on the wealthiest were effective and popular.

Now, the State Senate and Assembly aim to repeat that success, taxing only the ultra-rich to invest in affordability for all.

They’ve put forward a package that will help the vast majority of New Yorkers: affordable housing construction, direct aid to individuals struggling without homes, funding for child care, public education, and healthcare, and new tax credits for working families to help them make ends meet.

A recent poll showed that three out of four New Yorkers support an agenda like this. It’s really popular, it’s good economic policy, and — in an election year — it’s really good politics. 

If Governor Hochul and New York Democrats want to win elections this year, they must deliver on affordability and fairness. As President Biden has demonstrated, insisting on tax fairness is a crucial component of this effort.

Albany should reject the corporate lobbyists' sales pitch — taking care of the rich isn’t the most important priority right now. 

Governor Hochul should work with legislative leaders, unions, community groups, and our faith communities to pass policies that will boost affordability for millions statewide. That’s how to create a real “shared commitment to the success of New York” — make it work for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected. 

Michael Kink and Charles Khan are the executive director and deputy director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition, and are members of the steering committee of the Invest in Our New York campaign.

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 05:48

In the fall of 2007, Steven Roth was ready to make his mark on Manhattan’s skyline: an imposing, 2.8 million-square-foot tower on the site of the Hotel Pennsylvania, across the street from Madison Square Garden. The Cesar Pelli-designed tower would be Merrill Lynch’s new global headquarters.

“The papers were done,” Roth reminisced in a 2021 shareholder letter.

But a tremor ahead of the 2008 crash sank the deal. On the day it was to vote on moving uptown, Merrill's board discovered it was sitting on a $7.9 billion loss thanks to a rotting pile of subprime mortgages. And just like that, Roth recalled, “the deal was swept away.”

Today, Roth still dreams about building on the Hotel Pennsylvania site, which fills most of West 32nd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues and is tantalizingly close to the hip neighborhoods along the High Line and, to the east, Koreatown.  Last year, he demolished the hotel designed by legendary architects McKim Mead & White. In its place, he has proposed to install tennis courts, which officials say are one of several short-term ideas for the site until the time is right to build again. Fashion shows are another possibility.

“The best use Roth can come up with for some of the most valuable, potentially productive land in the city is a tennis court,” snarked Lynn Ellsworth, co-founder of advocacy group New Yorkers for a Human-Scale City. “That’s an insult to all New Yorkers.”  

“Give Roth credit, he’s trying to reimagine the Penn District,” said Alexander Goldfarb, an analyst at Piper Sandler. “It should work out. It just never has.”

“They’ve wanted to build a lot more new space in a very complex environment,” said Anthony Paolone, a real estate analyst with JPMorgan Chase. “They’ve been long in waiting.”

Roth, 82, has described his grand plans for the Penn Station neighborhood as his “promised land” and “moonshot.” By that, he means developing about 10 million square feet of new towers, creating the city’s next cluster of supertalls after Hudson Yards and Billionaires Row. Not only would that transform Manhattan’s skyline, but it also would put Roth on equal footing with Steve Ross, the developer of Hudson Yards, whose buildings rent for sometimes twice as much as Roth can command for his.

But after years of waiting for the right time to strike and hoping to land a sweeter incentive deal, Roth may have missed his moment. His moonshot remains stuck on the launching pad, a casualty of the rise of working from home and higher interest rates.

“You can’t build anything in [the Penn] District today because of the frozen capital markets. You cannot do it because the math doesn’t work,” Roth acknowledged on a February conference call. He vowed to press on, insisting, “The Penn District will be really important five years from now.”

Waiting game


Some big New York developers got into real estate by inheriting it from their parents. Brooklyn-born Roth got into the business because he wasn’t allowed to work at his father’s apparel manufacturer.

“They had an anti-nepotism clause,” he told Crain’s in a rare 2015 interview. He did not speak to Crain’s for this story after multiple requests were made through his press representative at public relations firm Rubenstein.

Roth started developing industrial buildings in New Jersey before moving on to shopping centers. Realizing the stock market was pricing real estate cheaply, in 1979 he won a proxy fight for control of Harrison, New Jersey-based retailer Two Guys, whose land he coveted. Victory gave him the retailer, its land, and a manufacturer of fans and air conditioners called Vornado. Roth took that name for his enterprise, and the company went public in 1993, around the time he was battling Donald Trump for control of department store chain Alexander’s. The weary flagship store at the corner of East 59th Street and Lexington Avenue offered intriguing redevelopment possibilities.

After Trump defaulted on personally guaranteed loans, Roth prevailed. Then he let the Alexander’s site lie dormant for years. He explained his thinking in a 2010 speech at Columbia University.

“My mother called me and said, ‘There are bums sleeping on the sidewalks of this now closed, decrepit building. They’re urinating in the corners. It’s terrible. You have to fix it.’ And what did I do? Nothing,” Roth recalled. “Why did I do nothing? Because I was thinking, in my own awkward way, that the more the building was a blight, the more the governments would want this to be redeveloped, the more help they would give when the time came. And they did.”

Thanks to government help, Roth was able to build taller than he otherwise could have when he developed the 1.1 million-square-foot, 57-story office and condominium tower at 731 Lexington Ave. The building serves as the headquarters for Bloomberg LP, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s media organization.

Its height was enhanced by 73,000 square feet of air rights granted under city zoning regulations and about 200,000 square feet of air rights acquired from other buildings, according to Alexander’s 2003 annual report. Roth also benefited from a zoning bonus under the city’s inclusionary housing program by developing 41 affordable housing units, amounting to 41,000 square feet, off site. This raised the building’s floor-area ratio from 10 to 12, the Urban Land Institute said in a case study, netting the developer an additional 169,000 square feet. Finally, Roth received a partial real estate tax exemption under New York's 421-a program for providing multifamily housing units and supporting off-site affordable housing.

The benefits of waiting for government assistance were something Roth wouldn’t forget as he turned his eyes to the Penn Station area. The neighborhood hadn’t seen much development since garment manufacturers relocated there from the Lower East Side in the 1920s. But the area, with its aging industrial buildings, past-their-prime hotels and dowdy department stores, looked promising after Times Square was cleaned up in the 1990s.

In 1997 Roth placed his big bet on the neighborhood, paying $650 million for 4 million square feet of Manhattan properties, including 2 Penn Plaza and 11 Penn Plaza, from Bernard Mendik, a former Real Estate Board of New York chairman once married to the sister of developer Larry Silverstein. Then Roth spent an additional $1.7 billion to acquire 1 Penn Plaza and other properties, eventually buying most of the buildings on both sides of Seventh Avenue between West 31st and West 34th streets. As part of that shopping spree, he teamed up with two parties to pay $159 million for the 1,700-room Hotel Pennsylvania, whose phone number, PA6-5000, was the name of a hit tune for Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. 

“Vornado has been buying properties around Madison Square Garden with plans to turn the district into an urban retail and entertainment locale similar to Times Square,” Bloomberg News reported in 1999.

VornadoLand


In spite of Roth’s inability to deliver on his biggest plans, he’s built a thriving enterprise. Vornado has more than 20 million square feet of commercial space across Manhattan and 2 million square feet of retail space, much of it along Fifth Avenue, in Times Square and in the Plaza District. The firm developed the supertall Billionaires Row tower at 220 Central Park South and reaped $3 billion in proceeds from selling the apartments. Forbes estimated Roth’s net worth to be $1.1 billion in 2019. His wife, Daryl, a leading Broadway producer, was appointed trustee to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts by Donald Trump when he was president. Their son, Jordan, is president of Jujamcyn Theaters.

Roth has also had success renovating older buildings near Penn Station, including the Farley Building, where Meta Platforms agreed in 2020 to lease 700,000 square feet. He also recently upgraded 1 and 2 Penn Plaza, rebranding them Penn1 and Penn2, and installed the latest amenities, including plush common-area seating and a lively bar scene.

“They really fancied up those places,” said Anne McDermott, a former tech sales executive who worked inside one of the two buildings on three occasions over the past 40 years.

Big as Roth’s empire is, it would have been even bigger if Merrill Lynch hadn’t backed out of the supertall tower on the Hotel Penn site in 2007. After that fiasco, he decided to build there anyway, and in 2010, the City Planning Commission granted Vornado a special permit to develop a 2.1 million-square-foot tower reaching 68 stories high, or 1,216 feet — about as tall as the Empire State Building, excluding the spire. In return, Vornado agreed to widen the northbound platforms at the Penn Station subway station underneath Seventh Avenue and reopen a passageway underneath West 33rd Street, closed since 1986, connecting the Seventh Avenue subway to the Sixth Avenue lines and the PATH.

But after all the groundwork was painstakingly laid, Roth waited.

“One of the great mysteries is why Roth didn’t build after he got the permit,” said George Janes, an urban planner who opposes Vornado’s plans for the area. “He wouldn’t be talking about tennis courts now if he’d done that.”

An adviser to Roth said nothing was built because an anchor tenant couldn’t be found after Merrill Lynch was swallowed up by Bank of America, which was building a new headquarters overlooking Bryant Park. Goldman Sachs Group was developing a headquarters downtown, and others were still tallying up the cost of the 2008 crash. In 2013, JPMorgan paid $13 billion to settle Justice Department claims into sales of troubled mortgages, and in 2014 it paid $2.6 billion to settle allegations of turning a blind eye to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

“It just wasn’t the time for banks to be looking for new space,” Piper Sandler’s Goldfarb said.

The ground quickly shifted, however.

In 2015 private equity giant KKR agreed to lease space at Hudson Yards, whose enormous glass towers were rising up two blocks west of Penn Station, the fruit of a deal made by CEO Steve Ross of The Related Cos. after Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to build an Olympic stadium on the site came to naught. In 2017 BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, also agreed to move to Hudson Yards. Meanwhile, Ernst & Young and law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom agreed to relocate to Manhattan West, a set of new office towers developed by Brookfield Properties next to Hudson Yards. Big tenants were paying $150 per square foot or even more for shiny new space — about 50% above what Roth could charge at his centrally located but older buildings, such as 280 Park Ave. or 1290 Sixth Ave.

“It wasn’t location that sold Hudson Yards,” Goldfarb said. “It was the high ceilings, the big windows and the office thermostats that actually worked.”

As threats from the west encroached on Roth’s Midtown empire, another competitor rose in the east with the 2021 opening of SL Green’s 73-story tower at 1 Vanderbilt Ave. Evercore ISI analysts say the building next to Grand Central Terminal could be worth $4.5 billion by itself, not so far below the $6 billion market value for all of Vornado. Figures like that persuaded Roth to finally redevelop all the property he owned around Penn Station.

“Penn District’s time has come, the district being validated by the neighboring Hudson Yards and Manhattan West,” Roth said in his 2019 letter to shareholders. “Our grand plan includes developing three to five new [buildings] in the Penn District. Imagine the NEW New York along the 34th Street corridor from VornadoLand (Macy’s, Penn Station, MSG) to Moynihan to Manhattan West and to Hudson Yards.”

Investors liked the sound of that, and the stock that Roth sometimes called “stupid, stupid cheap” paid out $500 million in dividends in 2019. It headed into the new year trading at $67 a share, for a $13 billion market capitalization.

Behind the scenes, officials in the administration of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo were working to ensure Roth’s promised land was one of milk and honey.

Fixing a hellhole


One evening in January 2018, Vornado Senior Development Executive Marc Ricks had important business to discuss with Cuomo’s economic development chief Howard Zemsky, MTA head Pat Foye and Rick Cotton of the Port Authority.

“Gentlemen,” began his email, released after neighborhood groups filed a Freedom of Information Law request. “I understand the Governor has directed us to sit with you as soon as possible to advance discussions at Penn Station.”

Linking his building plans to the wellbeing of Penn Station marked a change in direction for Roth. But with his dreams for transforming the neighborhood reaching their 20th anniversary, he had to amp up his game. He found a partner in Cuomo.

After carving out Moynihan Station from the old Farley Post Office, rebuilding LaGuardia Airport and naming the replacement of the Tappan Zee bridge for his father, Cuomo was ready to tackle the hardest job of all: renovating Penn Station, the underground rail hub that serves 600,000 commuters a day.

In 2017 Cuomo created a task force that included Roth to come up with solutions. Three years later, the governor unveiled an ambitious plan that called for fixing up Penn Station while transforming the Penn District. Vornado and others would develop up to 10 supertall towers totaling 18 million square feet around that station — a project on par with Hudson Yards. Tax revenue from higher rents and more commercial activity would help cover the estimated $7.5 billion cost of rebuilding Penn Station, the state said.

Cuomo insisted partnering with the private sector was the only way to get the massive public work done.

“There is no alternative, because paralysis is a death sentence,” he said in January 2020. “If we do nothing, the world will pass us by.”

It looked as if waiting would pay off for Roth once again, as when he held off developing Bloomberg LP’s headquarters on East 59th Street. He could now build up to five times more than the city had permitted in 2010 and, in shades of the Alexander’s saga, state officials said redevelopment was necessary because the streets around Penn Station were “blighted.”

Were Vornado to redevelop all the proposed sites around Penn Station, it would stand to get a $1.2 billion tax break from the state, according to fiscal watchdog Reinvent Albany. Yet the expected revenue would be $4 billion short of the amount needed to rebuild the train station, the watchdog group found. That analysis helped marshal opposition from civic leaders and members of Congress. Former MTA chief Dick Ravitch said he was “genuinely outraged” by the state’s plan to “recklessly” proceed with a “gift” of 18 million square feet to developers. Building a dignified Penn Station is a worthy cause, he said, but the state “altogether failed to explain why that requires a real estate giveaway on this scale.”

While political pressure mounted, the office market cratered as interest rates started to rise in the spring of 2022 and work-from-home habits hardened. On Nov. 1, 2022, Roth hit the pause button for rebuilding the Penn District.

“The headwinds in the current environment are not at all conducive to ground-up development,” he said on an earnings call.

Decoupling


Nine months after Roth called off his moonshot, Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has described Penn Station as a “hellhole,” said in June 2023 that the state and Vornado were “decoupling” and she would find other ways to pay for the transit hub’s renovation. One possibility would be issuing municipal bonds to supplement the $1 billion already allocated by the state Legislature.

Yet hope is far from lost for Roth’s dream. The state’s plan with Vornado has no expiration date, and decoupled couples recouple sometimes. Roth donated nearly $70,000 to Hochul in 2021.

“I inadvertently created a whirlwind when I made what I thought was an obvious comment … [that] was interpreted as our abandoning the grand plan,” Roth said in last year’s letter to investors. “Nothing could be further from the truth. A pause necessitated by economic conditions is not abandoning.”

The ground could shift again quickly, as it did in 2015, when big companies started leasing space in Hudson Yards. But persuading banks to write loans for office towers is a lot harder now, even for a successful developer with more than 50 years of experience. Manhattan’s return-to-office rate was 58% last September, the Partnership for New York City said, and “the expectation is that this will only grow to 59% on a long-term basis.”

Vornado has hunkered down. Its stock has fallen to $28 a share, and the company cut its dividend by two-thirds last year to conserve the cash it will need to make larger down payments on mortgages that will have to be refinanced soon at higher rates. The Bloomberg building’s $500 million loan is due in June, and Vornado’s 50% share of 280 Park’s $1.2 billion mortgage matures in September.

Even if conditions improve, it’s not clear whether Roth’s grand plans for the Penn District are still viable. Soon after taking office, Hochul shrank the scope of the project by 1.4 million square feet, according to a 2021 presentation, the equivalent of a supertall tower. Her revised plan also includes construction of up to 1,800 housing units. A spokesman said the governor changed the building plan “in response to community feedback.”

Further revisions may be coming in light of how embedded work from home has become. Perhaps a cluster of supertall office towers isn’t in the Penn District’s future, after all.

“It’s not clear what the best use of the neighborhood’s space would be,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the Municipal Art Society.  

Ellsworth, of New Yorkers for a Human-Scale City, fears it won’t be long before Roth starts building unless high interest rates continue to choke development.

“These ideas come back in slightly different forms under different names,” she said. “They’re like a vampire you can’t kill completely.”

That said, Federal Reserve officials believe inflation still is too high to start lowering interest rates and the market, which entered the year anticipating six rate cuts, now reckons one or two are more realistic. In his latest shareholder letter, released Wednesday, Roth predicted “frozen capital markets and sky-high interest rates have and will continue to shut down new builds.”

If development does move forward, the neighborhood may push back. One place targeted for demolition under the state proposal, the Church of St. John the Baptist, recently had the altar’s marble repaired and holes in the white walls patched up. It isn’t clear if the state and Archdiocese of New York agreed to eliminate the church, but the renovation work could be a sign the single-spire brownstone on West 30th Street will be around a while longer. Neither the archdiocese nor church leadership returned messages, but church member John Albanese said he has faith the building will outlast any developers’ grand plans.

“Moses didn’t get to the promised land,” Albanese said.  

Nick Garber contributed to this article.

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 05:33

Despite known issues of racial bias in AI, Dr. Dawnette Lewis says it can still help address wide racial disparities in maternal health outcomes.

Black people in New York face five times the risk of dying because of pregnancy complications compared to white people — a signal that there’s a lot of work to be done, said Lewis, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and the director of Northwell’s Center for Maternal Health. But she added that health systems are using technology to develop solutions to this crisis – and are making strides.

Lewis said Northwell’s Maternal Outcomes Navigation program, also known as MOMS, for example, uses AI to increase communication with patients and identify pregnancy complications early. The combination of an AI chatbot and a corresponding team of medical professionals has monitored 6,500 postpartum patients in the two years since it launched – and has reduced hospital readmission rates within a month among Black patients by 60%.

Lewis spoke to Crain’s about how the medical community can leverage AI to improve maternal health, despite its current limitations. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

There’s been attention on the U.S. maternal mortality rate and worse outcomes among Black birthing people for decades. Why do you think this has persisted?

I think mainly it's related to systemic racism and bias. Oftentimes I think we’ve made the assumption that chronic conditions are a driver, but even when you look at Black birthing patients who are healthy, the disparity remains. There’s more than one element that drives the disparity.

Where do you see examples of systemic racism and bias?

A couple of years ago the NIH had a conference about how AI continues to perpetuate disparities. One of the focuses was on calculators we use in medicine to quantify risks [of certain diseases.] For example, one of the calculators was used to prioritize who gets a kidney transplant, but there was a [figure that placed a bias] on Black patients [in the diagnostic equation.] What happened was Black patients ended up lower on the transplant list even though they were just as in need of a kidney as anyone else. Those calculators are embedded into our medical system and many don't help but actually hurt [existing disparities.] We have to revisit those, because they are built into all of our electronic medical records.

How do current diagnostic tools like this exacerbate health disparities in the ob-gyn field?

For patients who had a prior cesarean delivery and wish to have a vaginal delivery in their next pregnancy, there’s also a calculator that factors in race. We think it increases the disparity, because when you put in race for a Black patient, it lowers the success rate of a vaginal birth after cesarean [and may be contributing to higher C-section rates among Black birthing people.] When you look at data in the U.S., in whatever state you look at, the cesarean rate for Black patients is higher. There’s currently work to remove that from the calculator.

Northwell uses AI through its MOMS program to identify postpartum patients who need care. What are the benefits of this technology?

When we use AI in the MOMS program, we think about how to use it to help patients communicate with us if they have any issues. We use it as a way to call for help.

I think the boundary is when you use race as a surrogate to help make medical decisions. If you’re predicting a condition like heart disease, then you should factor in risk factors for heart disease – not use race or ethnicity as one of those risk factors.

Where do you see opportunities for investments to address the maternal mortality crisis?

I think AI is a good place to start. Even though this issue is something that’s been talked about, it’s not well-funded. But everyone has a smartphone. I think [making AI chatbots or other technologies available on personal devices] could be a way to bridge the cost.

What are you optimistic about?

When I started in maternal-fetal medicine, we couldn't get any other disciplines to even look at a pregnant patient. Now, there are articles published in internal medicine journals, hypertension journals, which recognize that pregnancy conditions are risk factors for cardiovascular conditions later on in life. I'm heartened that the American Heart Association takes this seriously, specifically for Black mothers. Specialists aside from obstetricians in maternal-fetal medicine are now investing in women's health and recognizing that women's health is not just about nine months of pregnancy.

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 05:33

A Long Island judge ordered a nursing home at the center of a state investigation to pay $2.7 million in late payments for its employees’ health insurance – the latest decision in a saga that has left workers’ coverage in limbo for months.

Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Lisa Cairo ruled on Tuesday that Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Woodbury failed to pay an insurance fund that provides health insurance to its employees in violation of an October ruling requiring them to do so. 1199 SEIU, which represents the workers, has demanded Cold Spring Hills owners pay workers’ benefits since August.

1199 SEIU’s benefit fund, which provides health insurance for Cold Spring Hills workers, sent a letter to employees in late March stating that their health benefits would expire on April 22 if nursing home management continued to skirt payments, evidence that Cairo said proved that the home was in contempt of court.

The ruling ordered Cold Spring Hills to pay the delinquent benefit payments by April 17 to ensure that employees don’t lose hospital, prescription drug, dental and disability benefits. If the nursing home fails to meet the court’s deadline, the judge will hold a hearing to determine a penalty on April 18.

A representative from Cold Spring Hills’ legal team did not respond to a request for comment from Crain’s on Wednesday.

The decision is the latest in a roughly year-long legal battle between the nursing home and the state. Attorney General Letitia James sued the 588-bed nursing home in December 2022 alleging that it diverted $22.6 million in federal funds away from patient care through a network of businesses devised to hide profits, a widespread practice known as related-party transactions.

The recent decision mandating employee benefit payments comes weeks after the judge found that health care at Cold Spring Hills is in jeopardy. Cairo required an oversight body to take over health care operations at Cold Spring Hills in a March ruling, citing instances of patient harm that were revealed in the attorney general’s investigation.

But that same decision rejected the attorney general’s claims related to the nursing home’s financial practices. The attorney general alleged that Cold Spring Hills’ owners created a real estate company to overpay themselves in rent and divert money away from patient care. But Cairo threw out the allegations because the state Health Department knew about and signed off on the nursing home’s related-party transactions, pointing to legislative changes to ban this practice.

James called the nursing home’s shortchanging of worker benefit payments “unconscionable,” noting in a statement to Crain’s that the recent court order secures benefits for the workers who provide care to residents at Cold Spring Hills.

“Sufficient staffing is crucial to protecting Cold Spring Hills residents and employees,” James said, adding that her office will continue to hold the nursing home accountable for treating workers and employees with respect.

Thu, 04/11/2024 - 05:33

Empire State Development, New York’s economic development umbrella organization, has made a $100 million investment in a Brookhaven National Laboratory machine that could lead to better cancer drugs and treatments, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday.

The Long Island lab is building an electron-ion collider, a machine that makes cell particles such as electrons, nuclei and protons smash together. Researchers can study and better understand their inner structures using three-dimensional imaging.

According to Pete Genzer, a representative for the lab, Brookhaven scientists are already making progress on components of the machine that could create more energy-efficient particle accelerators, devices that rapidly spin particles before they collide. The advancements could help make smaller, less expensive accelerators for cancer research, treatment and drug development, Genzer said.

The electron-ion collider could also lead to scientists producing more radioisotopes for diagnosis and treatment, Genzer said. Radioisotopes are radioactive atoms; some, including one already produced at Brookhaven, can kill cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.

The state’s investment comes after negotiating an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy, which chose Brookhaven to be home to the collider machine in 2020. According to Hochul’s office, the Empire State Development funding was finalized in February and will support design and construction over four years. The state’s portion of development for the machine will be complete by 2027, but construction is expected to continue until 2033. Overall construction is expected to cost between $1.7 billion and $2.8 billion.

Brookhaven is one of 10 labs overseen and primarily funded by the federal Department of Energy's Office of Science. Brookhaven Science Associates, a partnership between Stony Brook University, research organization Battelle and six other schools, manages the facility. It employs more than 2,500.