The new Winthrop University Hospital Diabetes Research Facility held it’s “topping out” ceremony on Monday afternoon, with the final piece of structural steel being put into place on the five-story building at the northwest corner of Mineola Boulevard and Second Street.
Numerous state and local officials as well as hospital personnel signed the white ceremonial I-beam which was put into place on the Second Street side of the building’s second floor.
“A great gateway into Mineola,” was how Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss described how the new building would look. “It was an old stucco building... but now it’s going to be a beautiful building; as we come over the Mineola Boulevard bridge you’re going to see this beautiful building instead of the stucco wall that you used to see.”
The mayor is hoping that the construction as well as the finished center will help attract more businesses to Mineola, or create the need for additional office or medical space in the area.
“Maybe they’ll need a place to stay and they’ll rent some apartments,” Strauss said, adding of the three-year history from the initial proposal to laying of the last piece of steel that “it was pretty simple. They cooperated with us, we cooperated with them. They wanted to help us get what we needed for the village residents and it is a great partnership; Winthrop’s a great neighbor to us.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new facility is scheduled for December 2014.
“It’s going to increase the foot traffic too, the number of people that are going to be coming from different communities around to come to this facility,” village trustee George Durham said. “They’re going to be walking through our downtown and seeing our downtown and hopefully shopping in some downtown stores too.”
When completed, the $95 million, 95,000 sq. ft. five-story research center will have three floors dedicated to research, two floors for basic science and research, housing adult and pediatric endocrine centers on the second floor so researchers and specialists can co-work on treating patients in the same building as well as a floor of the mezzanine which will be dedicated to medical students at Stony Brook Medical School.
“We wanted something that would symbolize the new vision of Winthrop University-Hospital,” hospital vice-president of development E. Ramone Segree said.
The hospital also provided certain amenities to the village, including burying the power and telephone cables which were present on the corner and a $1 million grant which will be earmarked for capital projects. Strauss said that the exact use of those funds whether it will be for parks or roads is still undetermined, but “it’s things like that that will be able to enhance the community.”
In recent years the hospital has added a dentistry department and clinic at 200 Old Country Road, as well as departments for podiatry and neuroscience.
“In so many places throughout the state, they’re downsizing hospitals, they’re closing hospitals and I’m so struck by the community that makes up Winthrop of how much you have come together of how much hard work you have done, both in terms of the medical staff, the research staff and the administrators to make this a very vibrant institution,” NY Sen. Kemp Hannon, R-Garden City, said.
The hospital has also received a $1 million facilities grant from the Empire State Development program for the construction of the research center and according to board chairman Charlie Strain, plans on achieving $25 million in philanthropic fundraising over the next year. Currently the hospital has raised about $14.5 million with $10.5 million still needed.
“When you consider where we were 5 years ago, 6 years ago, when we began thinking about building this research facility and where we are today, how quickly it came together; it doesn’t happen by accident,” NY Sen. Jack Martins, R-Mineola, said, recalling how when he was mayor of Mineola, working with hospital CEO John Collins to get the research center started. “It is the transition of this hospital as it moves forward – thank you for choosing diabetes and obesity, the scourge of modern times – as we go forward this will be the test for this community, certainly for this hospital to all.”