LOWER MANHATTAN — Backers and critics of Rudin Management's plan to redevelop the Greenwich Village site of the former St. Vincent's Hospital weighed the costs and benefits of the plan Wednesday morning, when the City Planning Commission held a first public hearing in the latest phase of the plan's review.
Rudin CEO and vice chairman Bill Rudin told the 13-member Commission and dozens of observers who crowded into a nearby room with closed-circuit footage of the hearing, that the plan to create housing, retail space, a public park and a medical facility will serve the Village, city and state.
"This is the type of model that will deliver quality care to the community," Rudin said, naming potential benefits including boosts to health care, economic development and the amount of public space.
"We will be contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to state coffers," he said.
Rudin acknowledged the community's push for a full-service hospital but said that "the world and the economy changed" and made such a facility impossible.
"There's no family in the city that has worked harder to get a full-service hospital," he said.
Advocates for a full-service hospital, including Coalition for a New Village Hospital head Yetta Kurland, have argued that a small hospital could be created for the estimated $125 million it will cost to build the Lenox Hill Comprehensive Care Center.
Community Board 2 land use committee chair David Reck, who spoke on behalf of CB2, disputed these benefits to the community and urged the Commission to vote down the plan.
"Why is it that we should go along with this upzoning when it will not provide benefits for the community and in fact will provide burdens for the community?" he asked.
Sister Miriam Kevin Phillips, speaking on behalf of Sister Jane Iannucelli of St. Vincent's veterans the Sisters of Charity, spoke in support of the Rudin plan.
"We welcome the Rudin Family to the Village and are confident that they will bring many great contributions," Phillips said. She added that the Sisters wished for the Triangle Park to memorialize the hospital's history.
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation executive director Andrew Berman spoke against the increase in neighborhood density that the zoning change would cause.
"If the City Planning Commission approves such a change, it is in fact putting in place a tremendous incentive to allow greater density of development for public service facilities which can later be exploited by private developers when the facility no longer exists, is forced out or is bought out," Berman said.
The Commission, which will vote on the Rudin zoning application within 60 days, raised questions about technical elements of the plan including the distance of buildings from the street, fencing around the Triangle Park and the location of a planned parking garage.
Triangle Park designer Rick Parisi, whose plan will be challenged by designs for an AIDS memorial park on the site, said that while the park will have commemorative elements, "this is more a neighborhood park" than a memorial.
The Commission in turn asked about the park's grade, fencing, basement and the width of its entrances.
After the Commission votes on the plan, it will be subject to a City Council vote.