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St. Vincent's Proposal Voted Down by Community Board 2

By Andrea Swalec | October 21, 2011 10:32am | Updated on October 24, 2011 10:18am
Carpenter Deon Gunthrope expressed support for Rudin Management's plan because it will create construction jobs, he said.
Carpenter Deon Gunthrope expressed support for Rudin Management's plan because it will create construction jobs, he said.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

GREENWICH VILLAGE — After five years of negotiations, local community leaders voted almost unanimously against proposed plans to turn the former St. Vincent's Hospital site into emergency medical facilities, luxury homes and retail.

Community Board 2 voted 40-1 Thursday night to urge the city to shoot down a bid to rezone the former St. Vincent's site in Greenwich Village unless the developers Rudin Management meet a host of requirements.

Notably, the resolution approved by the board did not focus on the controversial medical facility slated to take St. Vincent's place, which critics say is not a sufficient replacement for a full-service hospital, exept to say the following:

"Offices to be rented by physicians may technically be considered a health benefit and a community facility, but that does not begin to compensate for losing a Level 1 trauma center and a full-service hospital with an emergency department."

The head of CB2 said the resolution was strictly limited to concerns about zoning, and that it's up to the State Department of Health to determine whether the medical facility is sufficient.

The board approved a resolution saying they want the developer to address community concerns about the jump in neighborhood density as a result of the proposed 450 residential units, as well as increased traffic that could result from the parking garage proposed for West 12th Street. 

The resolution, penned by the CB2 St. Vincent's omnibus committee, said there are already three garages in the immediate vicinity and that an additional garage would raise environmental concerns and noise problems.

The committee's resolution also raised concerns about the proposed "90 feet of retail windows" that they say Rudin plans to put on 11th and 12th streets and Seventh Ave.

"These are residential streets and indeed 12th street has never had any form of retail space," the resolution says.

"The community has made its opinion heard loud and clear on zoning, housing and open space," said Board chair Brad Hoylman. "I think we're moving forward."

Board member Arthur Schwartz, who was the lone dissenter, said he voted against the CB2 resolution because it left out any mention of public concerns about the Northshore-LIJ emergency care facility slated to replace St. Vincent's.

Pending approval, Rudin Management expects construction on a 24-hour emergency department, imaging center and outpatient surgery facility to begin in the second quarter of 2012, according to an Oct. 3 statement

The medical facilities are expected to open in 2014, according to Rudin Management. The luxury residences, park and a new elementary school are scheduled to open later that year.

But many feel that the facility will not provide sufficient comprehensive healthcare for the neighborhood.

"I don't think I was asking for a lot, except for the board to link health care with zoning," Schwartz said. "I don't think this [resolution] reflects the sentiment of the community."

Rudin Management released a statement saying: "We appreciate Manhattan Community Board 2's efforts in dealing with a very important [land use] ... application. The Rudin family is proud that during 60 public hearings and meetings, we have consistently worked with Community Board 2, its elected officials and other community stakeholders..."

Some present at Thursday's meeting spoke out in favor of the Rudin proposal, saying it would create needed jobs in the area

"When the neighborhood lost St. Vincent's, we lost a lot more than a hospital — we lost jobs," Village resident Mary Margaret Amato said. 

Tammy Rivera of the New York City District Council of Carpenters said the Rudin Plan would create needed construction work. 

"We need jobs in New York City, don't we, ladies and gentlemen?" she said. "We urge you to let this project go forward." 

Rudin Management chief operating officer John Gilbert emphasized the company's work to engage the community over the course of dozens of public hearings. 

"We have said from the beginning that we would work with the community through the [land use] process. We meant it then and we mean it now," he said. 

The resolution supported a proposal to turn the St. Vincent's Triangle into greenspace including an AIDS memorial park, as long as it was not a "solemn, meditative park environment that [would] discourage any other park use."

Paul Kelterborn of the Queer HIstory Alliance, which has proposed the memorial, said he was inspired by the number of community members who expressed support for the project.

"We feel successful that we moved closer to our goal," he said. 

In the next phase of the Department of City Planning's land use review procedure, Rudin Management's proposal will be subject to an advisory vote by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. 

The City Planning Commission and City Council will then vote on the plans, following additional public hearings.