MANHATTAN — Plans to transform the former St. Vincent's Hospital site into luxury homes, emergency medical facilities, a public park and retail space got a boost on Friday, when Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer issued a statement of conditional support for the project.
Stringer said in this latest step of the Department of City Planning's land use review procedure that Rudin Management's plans to redevelop the central Greenwich Village land would preserve neighborhood character, create new open space and boost the economy.
"The redevelopment of the hospital campus has the potential to provide benefits to the local community and broader public," Stringer said in his recommendations, adding that while the closing of St. Vincent's in April 2010 left "an unmistakable void" in health services for Village residents, no sound alternative for a full-service hospital has been proposed.
"Unfortunately, to date, no one has come forward with a financially viable proposal that can meet all of the community's health care needs," Stringer said, adding that the state Health Department should evaluate the needs of the community.
This approval follows a nearly unanimous Oct. 20 vote against the project by Community Board 2, which expressed concerns about neighborhood density, increased traffic and construction noise.
Stringer's support is conditional on commitments Rudin recently made regarding multiple project modifications.
The borough president said Rudin should expand the size of the proposed St. Vincent's Triangle Park by removing gas storage facilities on its western end. He also wants developers to include a memorial element in the park, along the lines of the Queer History Alliance's proposal for an AIDS memorial park.
CB 2 chair Brad Hoylman expressed gratitude to Stringer for securing these revisions to the development plan.
"[CB2] is glad that [Borough President Stringer] was able to get the air rights extinguished from above the park, which will protect the open space and limit future increases in density in the neighborhood," Hoylman said. "These are important 'wins' for the community."
Tom Gray, executive director of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, also praised Stringer's decision.
The plan will "create 1,200 quality jobs, 400 permanent jobs, generate new tax revenue for the city and boost local small businesses," he said in a statement. "New York City needs leaders who will stand up to support projects that create jobs and help stimulate our local economies.”
Stringer defended the controversial Lenox Hill Hospital Comprehensive Care Center planned for the site, which the state Health Department approved on Nov. 4.
Critics of the plan, including the Coalition for a New Village Hospital and Hands Off St. Vincent's, call the new facilities inadequate and say people could die in transit to full-service hospitals for conditions the emergency center cannot address.
The center will consist of a 24-hour emergency department, imaging center, ambulatory surgery facility and 24-hour ambulance services.
Rudin Management's plan is next subject to approval by the City Planning Commission and City Council, following multiple additional public hearings.