GREENWICH VILLAGE — Development plans for the former St. Vincent's Hospital are still to be approved, but Village residents are worried after towering blue construction fences covered the controversial complex.
A team of contractors set up 20-foot-tall wooden fences Tuesday morning in front of the Coleman and Link Buildings on the east side of Seventh Avenue, where developer Rudin Management has requested a zoning change that would allow the building of luxury homes.
After closing on the sale of nine former St. Vincent's buildings in October, Rudin and its contractors secured six Department of Buildings permits for 7-15 Seventh Ave. in December and January.
According to city records, the permits allow installation of the construction fence, work on a pressurized air system, sprinkler modifications and interior removals of partitions, plumbing fixtures, piping, HVAC systems and ductwork.
Rudin's plan to convert the former hospital buildings into housing, a public park, a medical facility and retail space awaits votes by the City Planning Commission and City Council, but a planning spokeswoman explained that Rudin is within its rights to gut the building.
Rudin is subject to Department of Buildings enforcement of current zoning for the property until any zoning change is made, the spokeswoman said.
Community Board 2 voted nearly unanimously against the rezoning request on Oct. 20, citing concerns about neighborhood density.
In a second advisory vote on Nov. 25, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer issued a statement of conditional support for the project, saying that it would preserve neighborhood character, create new open space and boost the economy.
The proposal is due for a City Planning vote Mon., Jan. 23 at 1 p.m at 22 Reade St. It will then be subject to a vote by the City Council.
Village resident Philip Galinksky, 41, said he was disheartened to see the blue construction fences on Seventh Avenue, despite their legality.
"[The Rudins] are saying that people trying to stop the development have lost before the public process is even over," he said.
Chelsea resident Emily Gayle, 84, said she hated seeing the construction fences go up.
"I think they're horrible. [The Rudins] are doing it so that no matter how much people picket, it's a done deal here," she said.
Rudin CEO and vice chairman Bill Rudin said at a Nov. 30 City Planning hearing that the development will boost economic development in the Village and contribute "hundreds of millions of dollars to state coffers."