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WELLESLEY, MA-The Charles River Hospital here was auctioned to Lehman Brothers, which provides them with the opportunity to develop nine acres in one of this area’s most upscale neighborhoods. The sale, which was for $4.9 million, has been rife with controversy because of the growing shortage of beds for the mentally ill in this state. The hospital had 60 beds.

Lehman Brothers Holding Co., an affiliate of the Lehman Brothers investment firm, held the mortgage on the hospital and auctioned it for development. It is reportedly anticipated the hospital will ask Lehman to give it 18 months to relocate. Lehman Brothers did not return calls by presstime and it is unclear whether it will give the hospital that much time, but company officials have been quoted as saying that they intend to develop this piece of property.

Financial problems forced the hospital into bankruptcy a year ago. Lehman Holding bought the hospital’s mortgage from the federal Housing and Urban Development program, the case was dismissed from bankruptcy court a few months ago. The hospital owed over $17 million on its loan and tried to negotiate with Lehman, but eventually Lehman held a foreclosure auction.

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