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Armenian [Nursing] Home’s plans? ‘No comment,’ we’re told

Pascack Press & Northern Valley Press
The Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, at 70 Main St., Emerson, is closed, with no word on when it might re-open, if ever. Until recently it was anticipating an exciting expansion. (John Snyder photo)

EMERSON—There are no answers yet as to plans for the continuation of the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (ANRC) in Emerson or elsewhere, with borough officials saying they have no updates on the 70 Main St. site.

ANRC closed its doors on Easter Sunday after after 83 years in operation. From the outside, the 3.5-acre property, with its 86 beds, still appears neat as a pin. Commons areas appear ready for use.

All residents “were safely and appropriately transitioned” to other nearby facilities, according to an April 23 announcement posted on the home’s website.

The message continues, “Further, virtually all ANRC employees were offered subsequent employment prior to closing — no small feat.”

Administrator Stephen J. Epstein wrote residents and family members April 2 that the facility “will close its doors for the last time” on Easter Sunday, April 4.

“Started in 1938, caring for the aged and infirm Armenians and soon growing to include all races and religions in America, over the last several years the Home struggled to compete with the growth of assisted living and home health care services and finally succumbed to the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he wrote.

“We sincerely thank our residents for allowing us the joy of caring for them over these past 83 years as well as their supportive families and friends,” he added.

NJ Spotlight News said in May that according to plans filed with the state on Feb. 8, operators at ANRC “provided residents’ families with a list of seven other facilities in the region, five with spots open for Medicaid members. Follow-up communication with the state indicates all residents did eventually find a new home.”

Until recently the home was embarked on exciting expansion plans. The Armenian Mirror-Spectator reported in 2018 that the board of directors for New York’s only residential facility for Armenian seniors, the New York Armenian Home, decided to sell their building in Flushing and relocate. They finally agreed with ANRC on a joint venture in Emerson, for which they were then finalizing the paperwork.

The paper quoted Khoren Bandazian, secretary of ANRC’s Board of Directors:“We’re going to be establishing a new non-profit company that each side will have participation in. And, we are currently talking with the Hackensack Meridian Health Network to be the developer, to build the new building, and also to manage the building going forward once it’s completed.”

According to Bandazian, construction on the Emerson property was to begin within the next nine months and was expected to be completed 18 months later.

On ANRC’s website, the message announcing its closure notes that the New York Armenian Home, Inc., and ANRC entered into an affiliation agreement on March 28, 2019. “By helping those in need, our respective organizations carry out their missions and further the charitable purposes. Despite setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have made great progress, and are now very close to taking the next steps toward our joint venture.”

The message notes both organizations “are now fully focused in moving forward with the actions necessary to further our joint development” at 70 Main St. “It has been an arduous journey for our collective community, and although the Covid-19 pandemic created challenges and changes to our vision, the end is in sight and development planning is underway.”

Mayor Danielle DiPaola told Pascack Press on July 21 that she had not heard from ANRC officials in some time. She said it was her understanding that a new facility was approved for construction, and a groundbreaking held in 2019.

She said the original plans included nursing home residents staying in the existing facility while a new facility was built on the adjacent grass field. Then the old structure would be razed, and residents relocated, once the new facility was completed.

At the 2019 meeting, the Land Use Board approved minor changes to an amended resolution for a 118-bed facility in partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health.

The amended resolution was approved, 6–0, in 2019, with two abstentions and two members recused. Architect and planning professionals for ANRC said then that delays in construction were due to changes in state nursing home regulations.

— With John Snyder

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