LOWER MANHATTAN — Despite years of community criticism, the City Planning Commission on Monday paved the way for Rudin Management to build luxury condos, retail space and a public park at the former St. Vincent's Hospital.
City Planning unanimously approved Rudin Management's request to rezone the hospital's site and did not ask for modifications.
"The proposed ensemble of buildings on the 'East Site' successfully integrates new and historic buildings into a site plan that respects the existing built context of the neighborhood," City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden said about the 450 condo units and retail spaces planned for Seventh Avenue between West 12th and West 13th streets.
"I am very pleased to vote yes."
Rudin CEO and vice chairman Bill Rudin praised the decision.
"We're very happy and pleased, and this passage reaffirms that we worked with the community," he said. "[Village residents] will see revitalization of the neighborhood."
Rudin and backers, including the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, said the development will create jobs, spur economic development in the neighborhood and create much-needed open space.
Village resident Caroline Benveniste, who is a member of the newly formed community group Concerned Residents of the West Village, said she was disheartened that the commission did not reevaluate the noise, safety and neighborhood density issues caused by the development and its construction.
"What's upsetting is that they didn't even question any of [Rudin's proposal]," she said. "That's incredible, given how much effort was put in by the community."
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, worried the commission's decision would set a "scary" precedent.
"It's deeply disappointing that they gave the [zoning] privileges intended for a hospital to luxury condos," he said. "It's just wrong."
Plans for the site do not specifically call for an AIDS memorial park on St. Vincent's Triangle, which has been backed by National September 11th Memorial designer Michael Arad, actress Whoopi Goldberg and fashion designer Kenneth Cole.
The park "will have placeholders for commemorative elements," Rudin said after the vote.
Monday's vote did did not alter North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System's plan to create the Lenox Hill Hospital Comprehensive Care Center. As DNAinfo first reported, the state Department of Health approved in November creation of a 24-hour emergency department and other services in the iconic, white O'Toole Building on the west side of Seventh Avenue.
The rezoning application — which was voted down by Community Board 2 but backed by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer — will next be subject to a vote by City Council before construction can proceed.
"We look forward to working with [City Council] Speaker Quinn and the rest of the City Council to gain final passage and begin the process of hiring the more than 1,600 New Yorkers who will make this project a reality," Rudin said in a statement that followed the vote.