The shuttered Madera Community Hospital is seen in this March 2023 photo by Ben Hensley
Written by Omar Shaikh Rashad with Fresnoland
This story was originally published by Fresnoland, a nonprofit news organization.
In an attempt to chip away at their millions in debt, Madera Community Hospital’s leaders are trying to sell off a 35.58-acre parcel of land for more than half a million dollars.
In November 2013, the hospital’s executives rented out the land to S&K Management, which redeveloped it into an almond tree orchard. In July, the management company made a cash offer of $569,280 to purchase the land, which sits less than two miles from Madera Community Hospital.
While the Madera hospital’s Board of Trustees authorized the sale, the transaction needs approval from Bankruptcy Court Judge René Lastreto. Additionally, the legal team representing the hospital’s creditors — or entities that the hospital owes money to — called for a competitive bidding process instead of a private sale to attract higher offers.
“We’re encouraged by the initial indications that there may be a competitive process here and we look forward to maximizing the value of the estate,” said Boris Mankovetskiy, a member of the legal team representing the hospital’s unsecured creditors, at a Sept. 12 hearing.
Revenue from the sale would go toward settling debts with Saint Agnes Medical Center, which gave the Madera hospital $15.4 million when its parent company, Trinity Health, Inc. was seeking a merger deal.
Madera Community Hospital filed for bankruptcy in March and listed $44 million in liabilities, which included the loan from Saint Agnes Medical Center. The hospital still has $33.7 million in liabilities — which includes secured and unsecured debts — and accumulated another $2 million in debts since filing for bankruptcy, according to an August update.
The land that the almond tree orchard sits atop was valued at $140,658, according to a 2023 property assessment from Madera County Assessor Brett Frazier.
The tenants’ current lease lasts until 2033 and the hospital specifically owns the plot of land, not the trees or farming infrastructure that exists on the land. The hospital has collected 20% of crop sales as rent every year since 2013, per the lease agreement.
Riley Walter, Madera Community Hospital’s bankruptcy attorney, said at the Sept. 12 hearing that he had received other bids during the prior weekend. Over the next month, his team will release a solicitation package for interested bidders.
Parties vying to buy the land would need to show up to an Oct. 24 hearing, when Lastreto will likely issue an order on the transaction, according to court documents.