Volume 76, Number 53 | May 30 - June 5, 2007

Polyclinic developer is exploring15, count ’em, options for building

By Bonnie Rosenstock

The original proposal was to convert it into condos. Then, in December 2006, an application was filed for its use as a dormitory. The latest to be served up may turn it into an eatery, at least in part. It seems that owner/developer Herbert Hirsch is still trying to figure out what to do with the Cabrini Stuyvesant Polyclinic on Second Ave. and E. Ninth St.

In a recent posting on the New York Commercial Realty Services Web site (nycrs.com), the East Village landmark, which Hirsch purchased in August 2006 for $4.8 million, or $375 per square foot, is described as “perfect for restaurant/bar, $150 per square foot, lease term 10 years, no key money.”

In a phone interview, Hirsch acknowledged he was exploring all of his options, “one of which is what you saw.”

Making direct reference to the article in The Villager in January of this year on his application with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to convert the three-story building into a student dormitory and to enlarge it by adding three additional floors on top, Hirsch said, “To report anything at this point is premature, inaccurate and irresponsible.”

When asked about the status of this application, he stated, “We have no intention yet. We are exploring anything and everything that comes my way as a developer. If the community has some proposal for me, they want other medical offices and they’ve got someone willing to take it, I’m all ears. I want to do something that’s great for the community.”

When asked if he thought another bar/restaurant would be great for the community, he replied, “You tell me…. You found two options. I am exploring 15.”

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, expressed uneasiness over these two options.

“They don’t sound like the right ones,” Berman said. “The community is very concerned about the future of this building, and so far the signals we’re getting have not instilled any great confidence in the plans of the owner.”

When pressed to disclose some of his other options, Hirsch responded, “When I am ready and have an actual deal, I will certainly let the community know about it. It is my intention to do something consistent with the architecture and to preserve the historical character,” he said.

He said that one of the 15 options is community facilities, but he refused to specify what that would be for fear that “Ten other developers are going to find out about the people I am talking about and pursue them.”

By definition, “community facilities” includes structures that relate to an educational institution, like a dormitory, a house of worship or healthcare facility, which would allow a bulk bonus of 88 percent more space. Given the landmark status of the 1883 building, any addition would need approval by L.P.C.

“Don’t relate the worst-case scenarios,” Hirsch admonished.

When asked for the best-case scenarios, Hirsch repeated that he couldn’t talk about it.

“If you want to say anything, say, ‘There’s a guy who owns this property, a great guy, he’s done wonderful things with the Landmarks Commission previously,’ which you haven’t pursued,” he asserted. “Talk about what I have done.”

The Villager gave Hirsch an opportunity to discuss his past accomplishments, but he declined, saying, “The conversation is over. I’ve told you everything I am going to tell you at this point. No article. Nothing to report.”

According to Lisi de Bourbon, a Landmarks spokesperson, the agency has not gotten any further application from Hirsch since de Bourbon last spoke to The Villager in January.

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