BY ALBERT AMATEAU | A deal brokered by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Wednesday resulted in major concessions in Rudin Management’s residential redevelopment of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital property.
As part of the deal that Quinn announced after a March 14 Council committee hearing, the city’s Department of Education has agreed to purchase the seven-story building at 75 Morton St. from New York State and convert it to public school use.
The 75 Morton St. agreement does not involve Rudin, but Greenwich Village education advocates, Community Board 2 members and Assemblymember Deborah Glick have long demanded that the building be used to ease the shortage of public middle school space in the district.
Concessions on the Rudin project include a reduction in the total number of apartments from 450 to 350. Rudin also agreed to reuse the former hospital’s Reiss building on 12th St. instead of demolishing and replacing it with a new 12-story apartment building.
The Reiss agreement means that the impact of construction on 12th St. will be reduced because all existing buildings on the street will be reused. Rudin has also agreed to reduce the number of parking spaces in an underground garage planned for 12th St. from 152 to 95.
Another perceived neighborhood victory is a Rudin agreement to contribute $1 million for arts programming and projects at two Greenwich Village elementary schools, P.S. 41 at 11th St. at Sixth Ave. and P.S. 3 at Hudson and Grove Sts.
In addition, to support affordable housing, Rudin has agreed to donate $1 million to MFY Legal Services to help protect rent-regulated tenants in the Village.
Rudin has also agreed to transfer the ownership of the proposed triangle park on the west side of Seventh Ave. between 11th and 12th Sts. to the city Department of Parks. A spokesperson for the developer noted that as a city park, the triangle couldn’t be used for other purposes.
Moreover, Rudin has agreed for a public process involving Community Board 2 to review a design for an AIDS memorial in the triangle.
Regarding the retail uses proposed for its high-rise residential building on the west side of Seventh Ave., Rudin has agreed to prohibit retail signage on 12th St. and to restrict signage on 11th St.
Quinn recalled at the Wednesday news conference that elected officials and Village activists two years ago “lost a long and valiant fight to keep our beloved St. Vincent’s open.”
But while she promised to continue to advocate for a full-service hospital, she welcomed the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System’s Comprehensive Care Center and 24-hour emergency department planned for the O’Toole building on the west side of Seventh Ave.
“The agreement reached today between the City Council, Rudin Development and the Bloomberg administration will bring educational capacity, open space, historic preservation and major community victories,” Quinn said.
Brad Hoylman, chairperson of Community Board 2 — which in October voted to disapprove the upzoning needed for the Rudin project — said the agreement went a long way to meeting the board’s basic issues: affordable housing, public schools and open public space.
Hoylman also promised that the fight for a full-service hospital would continue.
Bill Rudin, C.E.O. of the development company, said, “Today’s vote puts us one step closer not only to bringing these benefits to fruition, but returning quality healthcare to the Village, creating more that 1,600 jobs and revitalizing the small businesses that were so negatively impacted by St. Vincent’s closure.”
Quinn also thanked Assemblymember Glick, state Senator Tom Duane, Borough President Scott Stringer and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler for their efforts regarding 75 Morton St.
Hoylman also paid tribute to Glick on the Morton St. deal and lauded the efforts of Village public school parents and Community Board 2 members, especially Keen Berger, a leading member of the board’s Education Committee and its former chairperson.
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, had some doubts about Rudin’s promise to preserve the Reiss building for residential use.
“Whatever Rudin does will have to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission,” said Berman. He noted however that L.P.C. had called Reiss “noncontributing” to the character of the Greenwich Village Historic District. The commission usually approves demolition of “noncontributing” buildings, Berman said. “We hope there is some explicit and enforceable agreement between the Council and the developer about the preservation of Reiss and what that means,” Berman said.
Christopher Tepper and Paul Kelterborn, co-founders of the AIDS Memorial Park Coalition, said they were pleased with the Wednesday agreement. The coalition conducted a landscape competition earlier this year for an AIDS memorial in the proposed triangle park.