St. Vincent’s Deal Adds School, Saves Building

Written by AlanKrawitz on . Posted in Breaking News, News Our Town Downtown, News West Side Spirit, Our Town Downtown, West Side Spirit.

Following nearly five years of negotiation, an agreement reached Wednesday by the City Council, Rudin Management and the mayor’s office allows for significant changes to the developer’s plans at the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site.

The City Council’s Land Use Committee voted 10 to one in favor of a proposal whose major provisions include shrinking Rudin’s residential development from 450 condo units to 350; the purchase of a state-owned building at 75 Morton St. to be used for a new middle school; and the permanent transfer of Triangle Park to the city, which will include an AIDS memorial and undergo a public review process.

Moreover, the Council reported that $1 million would be directed to arts programs at P.S. 41, P.S. 3 and the proposed school at the Foundling Hospital site, along with $1 million for a legal services fund to help retain affordable housing in the Village. The Council also said that the Reiss Building on 12th Street would be preserved.

Brad Hoylman, chairperson of Community Board 2, praised Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose district includes the Village, for her efforts on behalf of the community. “The St. Vincent’s redevelopment package addresses significant needs in our area. This includes support for public schools, a legal fund for rent-stabilized tenants, open space that will become permanent public parkland with an AIDS memorial and sensible changes to the new development, including preserving the Reiss building in addition to the five buildings that were already saved as part of the project, which is in the Greenwich
Village Historic District,” Hoylman said in an emailed statement.

However, he reiterated his frustration regarding the fight for a hospital in the Village. “Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t include a much-needed full-service hospital,” he added. “That battle must continue.” Plans for a new health care center to be operated by North Shore LIJ out of the modern building on West 12th Street, referred to by some residents as a “freestanding emergency room,” were unaffected by Wednesday’s announced deal.

Some politicians, including Assembly Member Deborah Glick, had mixed support for the revised Rudin West Village Development Plan. “The battle to get a school at 75 Morton Street was a four-year effort and we’re happy about that,” Glick said. She added that she was not pleased about the upzoning privileges afforded Rudin.

“That zoning should have been reserved for the ‘public benefit,’ as St. Vincent’s was,” Glick explained. “A private developer shouldn’t have been able to take that zoning and use it for a private, commercial use.”

In an emailed statement, Andrew Berman, executive director of The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, concurred with Glick regarding the upzoning issue. “The GVSHP objects to upzoning the St. Vincent’s site to give a luxury condo development special zoning considerations originally intended for a hospital,” he wrote. He continued, “While many of the changes may improve the [development] plan, they don’t necessarily address this fundamental problem.”

The special zoning privileges Berman referred to date back to 1979, when the St. Vincent’s site was rezoned to allow a large bulk of development for hospital buildings and a much smaller one for residential buildings. Berman added that Rudin is now asking for the site to be upzoned to be allowed much greater bulk than the allowable residential.

The revised plan must still be reviewed by the City Planning Commission and will be voted on by the full Council March 28.

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