Two New Jersey universities have purchased a 20-acre hospital site in Westwood, N.J. and plan to convert the former acute-care facility into a medical school. Hackensack University Medical Center and Touro University College of Medicine purchased the former home of Pascack Valley Hospital for $45 million.

The hospital that operated the 251-bed facility filed for bankruptcy protection last fall. Cushman & Wakefield’s Metropolitan Area Capital Markets Group orchestrated the sale of the property, which was approved by the U.S. bankruptcy court responsible for dispersing the hospital’s assets. Andrew Merin, vice chairman, and Jose Cruz, executive director at Cushman & Wakefield, spearheaded the transaction along with David Bernhaut and Gary Gabriel.

The universities plan to welcome their first students to a new medical school at the site in 2009 when they restore emergency medical services to the region. Hackensack has an application pending with the New Jersey State Department of Health to open a free-standing emergency room with observation beds. The medical center already provides paramedic services to 18 surrounding towns.

“Cushman & Wakefield worked in collaboration with local officials and potential bidders to balance the best interest and needs of the Borough of Westwood and the surrounding neighborhoods with the marketing of this property to its fullest potential,” says Merin.

Located in northeastern Bergen County, the site is seven miles from Rockland County, N.Y. Pascack Valley Hospital was established as a small community hospital in 1959 to serve 10 communities in northern Bergen County. Over the years, the facility expanded to incorporate an array of clinical services. “The property is ideally suited for an array of health-related services, research and clinical care,” Cruz says.