West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 15 | September 12 - 18, 2007

Villager photo by Elizabeth Proitsis

The entranceway to the former Cabrini Stuyvesant Polyclinic on Second Ave., whose facade sports busts of historical medical figures.

Was it 16th option? Cabrini Polyclinic sold again

By Bonnie Rosenstock

One year after purchasing the Cabrini Stuyvesant Polyclinic, developer Herbert Hirsch has finally decided what to do with the vacant property. Hirsch’s office confirmed that he has sold it. Hirsch, who bought the 1883 landmark building at 137 Second Ave. and E. Ninth St. last August for $4.8 million, closed the deal around Labor Day.

At this time, it is not known who the new owner is, what the plans for the building are or how much the building sold for. The public relations director for Massey Knakal Realty Services, the company that negotiated the sale, stated, “James Kinsey can’t talk about the property due to confidentiality agreements.” The asking price on the agency’s Web site was $7.5 million.

When Hirsch bought the building last August, he stated that he would convert it into residential condos. Then in late fall, he filed an application with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Committee to convert the three-story building into a student dormitory and add three additional floors on top. But according to an L.P.C. spokesperson, Hirsch did not follow through on the application process.

In May, he tried to lease it as a restaurant/bar. When The Villager spoke to Hirsch about this offering on a realty Web site, he declared that he was “exploring 15 options.” It is not known if his latest decision to unload the building was one of the 15 or if it was a 16th option.

As noted on the Massey Knakal Web site, “There are significant air rights associated with the property but their use may be affected by the Landmarks Commission and/or the proposed East Village rezoning.”

Because of the building’s landmark status, it would have to undergo a stringent vetting process by the L.P.C. before any alterations could be made. Moreover, the city’s proposed rezoning of the East Village includes putting height restrictions on new developments and additions.

In an e-mail, Melissa Baldock, director of preservation and research at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, explained that the rezoning “would assure that any new property on Second Ave. [which includes the Polyclinic building] will have to be in line with its neighboring buildings and be capped at 65 feet — or about six stories. The building bulk will have to be pushed back from the front of the building about 15 feet to have an additional height of 15 feet, creating a penthouse-like addition.

“It would eliminate the ability to purchase and use excess air rights from neighboring properties and makes sure that new development fits the general scale and form of the neighborhood, preventing buildings like the one built above the Theater for the New City on First Ave. and 10th St. The buildings on the midblocks would be even smaller,” Baldock added.

The rezoning will also eliminate the community facility bonus in most of the East Village east of Third Ave. — but not the area between Third and Fourth Aves. — which currently allows a community facility, such as a dorm, to be almost twice the size of a residential building. The city is currently working on the environmental assessment statement for the rezoning.

“Community groups have been lobbying the city for some time to get them to do this,” noted Baldock. “The proposal has been changed a few times for the better, although there are definitely still differences between what the city is proposing and what a lot of community activists would ideally like,” she said.

“It’s possible that as the process moves forward, it can be made even better,” she said.

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