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Sanitation Dept. Seeks Garage Location as Hospital Takes Upper East Site

By Amy Zimmer | March 15, 2012 8:08am
DSNY will sell its garage site at E. 73rd St. to a hospital in exchange for another spot to build a garage, sanitation officials said.
DSNY will sell its garage site at E. 73rd St. to a hospital in exchange for another spot to build a garage, sanitation officials said.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

UPPER EAST SIDE — As residents continue fighting plans for a garbage transfer station along the East River at 91st Street, a different sanitation facility is leaving the Upper East Side for good — but sanitation officials hinted that it won’t be going too far away. 

Amid a flurry of hospital expansion on the East Side, yet another medical institution will soon be expanding where a Department of Sanitation garage once stood at East 73rd Street along the river. In exchange, the site’s developer will provide the city with another property for a garage housing the trucks, street sweepers and snow plows servicing the Upper East Side and Murray Hill/Gramercy, sanitation officials said.

The city is building a $500 million sanitation garage on Spring Street.
The city is building a $500 million sanitation garage on Spring Street.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

Though negotiations are ongoing, the new garage will not be on the Upper East Side, Daniel Klein, director of DSNY’s office of real estate, told Community Board 8 on Tuesday.

"It will not be in [the Upper East Side’s] District 8. You can take from that what you will," he said, keeping mum on the new location, but hinting it could be in the East Side's District 6.

DSNY’s facility at 525 East 73rd St., which had an incinerator that closed down roughly two decades ago, was demolished in 2008 — though its foundation remains on the site — with the intention of erecting a new garage. But when budget constraints delayed that project indefinitely, the city changed course in order find a new way to get capital funds for the project.

It solicited bids from health care, education or scientific research facilities to either do a joint facility with the sanitation department on the site or to purchase the property outright and also provide a site for the a sanitation garage, preferably somewhere on the East Side.

The two bids submitted both preferred the land swap, Klein said. The winning bidder, expected to be announced in about a month or two as negotiations are finalized, is planning to build a hospital and education facility to East 73rd Street that would likely be roughly 800,000 square feet, he noted.

"The city will be paid a substantial amount for the property," Klein said, "and will get property for the garage."

He noted that the deal does carry risks for both the developer and the city since both projects will be subject to community approval through the public land use review process.

"We have not been informed about any possible locations in Community Board 6," CB 6 Chairman Mark Thompson told DNAinfo.

When the East 73rd Street facility was razed, the Upper East Side’s sanitation equipment went up to Inwood’s garage at 301 W. 215th Street, a temporary solution that stretched into several years. Having the trucks six miles away from the area they serve, however, costs time and money and is particularly problematic in snowstorms, Klein said.

The garage serving the Murray Hill/Gramercy area is presently on West 30th Street. Sanitation officials wanted their trucks on the East Side to cut down on crosstown trips.

The 73rd Street garage had also housed the trucks for Midtown’s Community District 5. That equipment, now being housed at a facility on Gansevoort Street will eventually be housed in the garage to rise on Spring Street, which had faced heated opposition from the community including such celebrities as John Slattery, James Gandolfini and Lou Reed.

"This equipment has to go somewhere and it’s to our benefit to have these somewhere closer to [the neighborhoods they serve]," Klein told DNAinfo.