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Former insurance building conversion starts coming online

by Atlanta Business Journal

The first phase of a project by The Center for Discovery to transform a building that formerly was the headquarters of Frontier Insurance in Rock Hill in Sullivan County into a state-of-the-art behavioral and health care facility has been completed. Empire State Development, which has been involved in helping finance the project, made the completion announcement.

The Center for Discovery night view of Frontier Insurance building conversion.

The Center for Discovery purchased the 164,000-square-foot vacant building on Lake Louise Marie Road to house the Research Institute for Brain and Body Health as part of a broader adaptive reuse project. The first 10,000 square feet of labs are now completed and occupied.

When completely converted, in addition to lab space, the building will have a special education school and Children’s Specialty Hospital. The school will be on the first floor and is planned to serve students with complex disabilities from Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties in addition to Sullivan County. The facility will include classrooms, a gymnasium, athletic fields and paved walking and biking paths. The hospital will be on the second floor. The third floor of the building is designated for the Research Institute for Brain and Body Health.

The project’s cost is estimated at $25 million, which includes the purchase of the building as well as renovations. State Sen. John J. Bonacic of Mt. Hope reported securing a $1 million transportation, infrastructure and economic development state grant for the project.

“From its innovative educational and clinical approaches for treating complex conditions, to its work in sustainable, organic farming and its commitment to advancing assistive technology, The Center for Discovery is a national model for health, wellness and innovation,” Bonacic said. “This grant will assist The Center in its latest endeavor and ensure that it can continue making a difference in the lives of so many people.”

The Center for Discovery was awarded a $2 million grant by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to support the construction of the new Children’s Specialty Hospital, including a wing for medically fragile patients.

In addition to its research programs, The Center for Discovery provides health care and education services for more than 1,200 children and adults with complex conditions, medical frailties and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Its campus comprises approximately 1,500 acres of land in Sullivan County with school campuses, residences, medical and research facilities and farmland. The Center reports having approximately 1,700 employees.

A portion of The Center for Discovery campus.

A portion of The Center for Discovery campus.

According to Patrick H. Dollard, CEO of The Center for Discovery, “With the completion of our Innovation Labs, the first labs within our Research Institute for Brain and Body Health, we are leveraging more than 30 years of leadership in assistive technology to better study and develop innovative solutions that can transform the lives of individuals with complex disabilities. We have a shared vision with Empire State Development to make the mid-hudson region a premier destination for innovative health care and research, and we are grateful for their support of this project.”

The Center has been before the town of Thompson’s planning board on numerous occasions in connection with the conversion of the former Frontier Insurance building and other projects on its campus. William Rieber, the town of Thompson supervisor, said, “The town of Thompson was excited to work with The Center for Discovery in their acquisition of the former Frontier Insurance property. The project will not only create higher-end employment opportunities for Thompson but serve children with complex autism, seizure disorders and more. The impact is so positive economically and to our most fragile population.”

Ira Steingart, chairman of the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), which has provided financial incentives for The Center for Discovery projects, commented, “This facility will bring a wide range of economic and community benefits to Sullivan County, providing much-needed services, creating high-quality jobs, improving health outcomes and bringing back to life a prime commercial property that has gone unused for several years. From the perspective of the IDA, it’s a fantastic project.”

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