Notorious Teen Mental Health Center Sells for $14 Million

August Aichhorn Center

(Google Maps)

The long-awaited sale of the August Aichhorn Center, a mental health treatment center for teenagers at 23 West 106th Street (at Manhattan Avenue), has finally closed for $14 million. Crain’s first reported the news.

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The center closed in April 2020 after being at the center of a years-long investigation into the mistreatment of patients. Staff members have been accused of physically restraining patients for excessive periods of time while unreported suicide attempts and an overreliance on antipsychotic medications have both been recorded.

“We get the youngsters nobody else can handle,” the center’s former director, psychiatrist Dr. Michael Pawel, told NY Mag in 1999. The publication noted at the time that Pawel would commute between the center and his private practice on West 72nd Street, which according to Google appears to still exist.

The first paragraph of a 2007 New York Times report states that the facility was at the time “cooperating with law-enforcement authorities who have charged three former employees with sexually assaulting girls at the center in recent years.” At least four of these girls were under 17.

The August Aichhorn Center made headlines again in 2015 when then 17-year-old Aniah Ferguson, the “leader of a notorious gang beatdown caught on cellphone video inside of a Brooklyn McDonald’s,” was committed to a stay at the psychiatric facility in lieu of prison time, the NY Daily News reported.

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After closing in 2020, the August Aichhorn Center became a research center focused on studying the long term results of its programs for troubled youth. Crain’s cited that the facility’s revenues dropped from $15.5 million in 2019, when the center was still operational, to just $2.2 million in 202 – a year after the New York State Office of Mental Health shut it down.

ALSO READ: Before Columbia University: The Bloomingdale Insane Asylum

A court battle over how the August Aichhorn Center would use proceeds from the sale is what ultimately delayed the transaction. Attorney General Letitia James blocked the initial attempt to sell the property in May 2022 over concerns about how the funds would be used. The AG has since approved the sale based on the requirement that the center must donate more than $13 million in sale proceeds to Montefiore Medical Center. The grant will help fund a new 21-bed youth psych center in the Bronx’s Morris Park.

The buyer is Liberty Search Ventures, with Crain’s listing Yosef Rabinowitz – a member of the group’s investment team, according to its website – on the buy-side of the transaction. Rabinowitz’s group purchased a Brooklyn warehouse at 39 Ainslie St. in 2021, which Bklyner reports is slated to become a shelter. The private equity firm appears to count the behavioral health space as an industry of focus.


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