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Construction Begins at Empty Hell's Kitchen Hospital

By Mathew Katz | February 7, 2012 7:45pm

HELL'S KITCHEN — The lights are on, and someone's finally home.

After years of neglect, work has begun work to transform the derelict St. Vincent's Midtown Hospital into luxury apartments. Construction workers were on-site Tuesday, and the building's landlord has put up lighted scaffolding.

The building is owned by the Chetrit Group, which did not respond to requests for comment. A representative from the company confirmed to members of the Hell's Kitchen 50th-51st Street Block Association that renovations on building had begun.  

Since the hospital at 415 W. 51st St. closed in 2007, residents have complained that the hulking, darkened building made the block feel dangerous and a haven for vagrants.

The developer said construction was imminent back in September, but locals said that they'd only noticed the scaffolding and construction noise over the past few days.

For years, neighbors have also complained that the buildings have become a breeding ground for rats, and that stinking standing water is a common problem. 

While local elected officials are optimistic many issues will go away once the development is completed, they've met several times with The Chetrit Group about the ongoing problems. In response, the developer promised to tighten security and improve efforts to get rid of rats.

The rundown building was founded in 1934 as St. Clare's Hospital, and many on the block still call it by its original name.

"It's better — especially at night, it's better," said Zachary Wellman, 26, who often walks down the block to work at night.

Wellman, however, pointed at numerous broken windows on the building, as well as stains on the sidewalk in front of it.

"It's still kind of gross though," he said.