Volume 77 / Number 44 - April 02 - 08, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Hours of hospital hearing, but eight is not enough

By Albert Amateau

The Landmarks Preservation Com-mission hearing on the St. Vincent’s/Rudin application for a new 21st-century hospital and residential project in the Greenwich Village Historic District ran eight hours on Mon., April 1 — and isn’t finished yet.

About 200 people attended the hearing, held at Borough of Manhattan Community College on Chambers St. Because there were dozens of people still waiting to weigh in on the largest project ever proposed for the Greenwich Village Historic District, or any historic district in the city for that matter, L.P.C. Chairperson Robert Tierney said the hearing would resume on April 15.

Hospital officials and Shelly Friedman, land-use lawyer for the project, told commissioners that the 150-year-old hospital should be considered as an institution and more worthy of preservation than any of its buildings.

St. Vincent’s says the proposed new 330-foot-tall hospital on the west side of Seventh Ave. and the new 265-foot-tall residential building to be developed by the Rudin Organization on the east side of the avenue to help pay for the hospital are necessary to ensure that St. Vincent’s will continue to serve the neighborhood and the city in the coming years.

But most of those at the hearing, including elected officials, as well as preservation groups, said they were appalled at the proposal to demolish nine existing buildings in a historic district that was created in 1969 to preserve buildings.

“No one has ever, in the 43-year history of the Landmarks Law, applied for, much less gotten, permission to demolish nine buildings within a designated historic district,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

St. Vincent’s had come before the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1977 for approval to construct some of the very buildings that it now proposes to demolish, observed Brad Hoylman, chairperson of Community Board 2.

Regarding the planned high-rise residential building on Seventh Ave. and the four- and five-story townhouses just east of the high-rise that Rudin plans to build, one preservation advocate said, “These buildings could just as easily be in Battery Park City or in Donald Trump’s Riverside South and bear no real connection to their context or the character of the surrounding Greenwich Village Historic District.”

In their remarks before the L.P.C. commissioners, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, State Senator Tom Duane and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also said they had serious reservations about the project.

St. Vincent’s and Rudin are applying for four certificates of approval from Landmarks at the same time: to demolish eight hospital buildings on the east side of the avenue; to build the residential buildings that replace them; to demolish the hospital’s O’Toole Building on the west side of the avenue, and to build the new hospital to replace it.

But Lisa Kersavage, speaking for the Municipal Art Society, called on the commission to judge each building on its own merits and assess whether each is worthy of preservation. M.A.S. has voted that the hospital’s newest buildings, Coleman, at 18 stories, built on Seventh Ave. in 1984, and Link, at four stories, built on Seventh Ave. and 11th St. in 1987, are not worth saving. But the Spellman Building, 11 stories, built in 1940 on W. 11th St., and the Nurses Residence, 15 stories, on W. 12th St., built in 1924, should be preserved, according to M.A.S.




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