Volume 79, Number 45 | April 14 - 20, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

PROGRESS REPORT
A SPECIAL VILLAGER SUPPLEMENT
HEALTHCARE


VillageCare’s new Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on West Houston St. will feature a healing garden.

VillageCare: An organization’s new name says it all

By Emma DeVito

In the weeks to come, those of you have been familiar with Village Care of New York and our various H.I.V. and senior care programs will see a bit of a shift in how we identify ourselves.

Some of you may have already noticed things we’ve done.

For one, we’re dropping the term “of New York” from our public name, calling ourselves, instead, simply, VillageCare.

That really reflects how most of you know us these days. Whenever I go to meet with people in the community, they almost always refer to us as VillageCare. That’s how we were introduced, for example, at a recent Community Board 2 committee meeting.

We have a new logo, too, that reflects the reshaping of our community identity. Again, the logo focuses on the name VillageCare. I think our name-shortening and new logo have a warmer feel to them than what we had before. I hope you agree.

But, really, the reason why we’re doing this rebranding of our organization has less to do with new graphics and images, and more to do with what we’ve come to mean in the communities we serve.

As we move now to identify all of our services in both senior care and AIDS treatment under the VillageCare banner, it will help our patients and clients, and healthcare consumers in general, better understand how we have evolved to offer a broad range of long-term care and health offerings that are all interconnected.

The association of all that we do with the VillageCare brand will become even more significant when we open the doors this fall to our new Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a state-of-the-art, skilled nursing facility that will replace the venerable, but aging, Village Nursing Home, at Hudson and W. 12th Sts., which has served this community with distinction for more than 30 years.

The new VillageCare Center, now under construction between West Houston and Downing Sts., is the capstone to the array of community and residential care services that we have built since our formation in the mid-1970s, when we began as a small, mission-driven organization operating a single, skilled nursing facility.

The new residential care community that will be established in the Rehabilitation and Nursing Center will build upon VillageCare’s demonstrated ability to get more rehabilitation patients back home more quickly, and better. And the patient-friendly surroundings of the new Center — from its healing garden to its neighborhood-like common areas — will help speed and enhance the healing and recovery process.

To learn more about VillageCare and about the many services we offer to meet your long-term care needs and to help you to better health and well-being, please visit our Web site at www.villagecare.org .

DeVito is president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit VillageCare, which serves more than 13,000 persons a year in community and residential care services, including home care, assisted living, adult day healthcare, skilled nursing care and short-stay rehabilitation, along with several supportive programs.

 

The South Village has also been an area of intense preservation activity. Since G.V.S.H.P. first approached the Landmarks Preservation Commission about landmarking this historic 38-block neighborhood south of Washington Square in 2002, historic building after historic building has been demolished or compromised, including the Provincetown Playhouse, Circle in the Square Theater, Sullivan Street Playhouse and the Tunnel Garage. In late 2009, L.P.C. finally held a hearing on designating the first one-third of the South Village Historic District we had proposed, and there was overwhelming support. But six months later, L.P.C. still has not voted to designate, and while it has committed to look at the remaining two-thirds of the neighborhood, there has been no commitment about when. 

In the meantime, more critical historic sites are being lost. The building at 178 Bleecker St., in the center of a row of 1861 houses between MacDougal and Sullivan Sts., was demolished to make way for an eighth-story apartment building that G.V.S.H.P. and neighbors contended would be illegally tall. The city initially approved the new building plans, but then after G.V.S.H.P. and community groups held a demonstration in front of the site, the city rescinded the approvals, temporarily. A final decision from the city on the new building is still pending, but the historic character of this row of houses in the center of the South Village and abutting the MacDougal Sullivan Gardens — one of New York’s oldest and most diminutively scaled historic districts — has already been compromised.

On the other hand, the designation of the 235-building first one-third of the proposed South Village Historic District, long overdue but expected any day, would be the largest expansion of landmark protections in Greenwich Village since 1969. In further good news, a coalition of neighborhood groups recently was able to stop a developer-requested rezoning of a stretch of Sullivan St. between Spring and Broome Streets that would have allowed more commercial development in this area, and potentially been used as a precedent for other developer rezonings in the South Village. 

Finally, the East Village has seen a great deal of preservation progress in recent years, but is so lacking in appropriate protections that it still has much catching up to do. A community-initiated rezoning in late 2008 reduced the allowable size and height of development in most of the neighborhood and eliminated zoning bonuses for hotels and dorms. The rezoning left out the Third and Fourth Ave. corridors and the Bowery, two parts of the neighborhood with the most egregious zoning and some of the worst new development, such as a 26-story N.Y.U. dorm and glassy hotels. After much lobbying, the city agreed to support a modest rezoning of the Third and Fourth Ave. corridors proposed by G.V.S.H.P., neighbors and Councilmember Rosie Mendez, though it has been slow to implement the plan. The city has resisted, however, a more far-reaching rezoning proposed for the Bowery by other community groups, and as a result, out-of-scale development continues unabated. 

More good news came in the form of nearly a dozen new individual landmark designations adopted or being considered in the East Village during the last year or two, including a Russian Orthodox cathedral, La Mama Theater, a former Children’s Aid Society headquarters, a former tenement synagogue and a former public bath.

Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

 

 

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