St. Vincents plans huge consequences
St. Vincents Catholic Medical Centers recent announcement that it is partnering with the Rudin family to develop a new main hospital building, while selling off most of its Greenwich Village campus for private development has enormous implications for the both the citys healthcare and our historic neighborhood.
By intending to take its 800,000 square feet of hospital facilities in roughly 11 existing buildings and combine it all on one small block the current OToole Building site between 12th and 13th Sts. on Seventh Ave. S. the hospital obviously would be building a far larger structure on this site. Currently, OToole is approximately 175,000 square feet, and St. Vincents wants the new building to be 600,000 to 650,000 square feet around three-and-a-half times larger than OToole.
According to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, if this new building were built straight up on the site, with no setbacks, it would have to be, at minimum, 17 stories tall. This triangular spot is a key location in the heart of the Village and any project there must be carefully considered for how it impacts on the Greenwich Village Historic District, in which the site is located.
Theres also concern there will be an increase in overall allowable bulk under the plan: that the building on the OToole site will be much larger while the residential development on the east side of Seventh Ave. S. will be as big, if not bigger, than the existing buildings.
St. Vincents is an absolutely critical medical facility, not only for Greenwich Village, but for the entire Lower West Side and Midtown West. It serves a growing population and major activity centers like Madison Square Garden, the Javits Center and Penn Station. Clearly, medical technology is rapidly changing and hospitals must keep pace.
Were glad to see that a community working group has been meeting on a regular basis since January to discuss St. Vincents plans and offer input. Hopefully, a plan will emerge from this process that will satisfy both St. Vincents needs and the communitys concerns.
Its true that this project, which also will include a massive demolition component, will transform the Village as we know it. Perhaps the hospital will come to see that all its facilities dont need to be clustered together in a tower on one site. It may be possible to sell off a little less of its property on the east side of Seventh Ave. S. and keep some hospital uses there.
Clearly, St. Vincents has embarked on a bold plan to ensure its financial and technological viability, and we are glad St. Vincents has come to the community early to vet these plans. Were hearing positive things about initial meetings St. Vincents has had with architecture firms about what a new all-in-one hospital building might look like that it must be contextual. Contextual also means fitting in in terms of scale. Achieving this is where the hard work lies.