PARK SLOPE — New York Methodist Hospital has filed paperwork with the city for its controversial expansion, but the size and shape of the proposed building could still change in response to community criticism, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Architects this week submitted initial plans to the Department of Buildings for New York Methodist's new outpatient facility, which could be as high as eight stories and span much of the block between Seventh and Eighth avenues and Fifth and Sixth streets.
The paperwork is an early step toward getting approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals, which must grant a zoning variance if the new facility is to move forward as originally envisioned, said hospital spokeswoman Lyn Hill.
"I don’t want anybody to think that we’re any further along than we are," Hill said. "The design and the layout isn’t finalized yet, and there’s a lot more work to be done."
The hospital has been collecting comments from neighbors, many of whom angrily denounced the expansion plans at a July meeting. Residents were invited to submit their feedback via email (to firstname.lastname@example.org) and so far New York Methodist has received about 15 or 20 responses, some of them "fairly detailed," Hill said.
Neighbors say increased traffic on Fifth Street is one of their top concerns. They're also worried about the height and "massing" of the new building on Fifth Street and Eighth Avenue, Hill said.
Residents have said they'd prefer the bulk of the U-shaped building be on Sixth Street, instead of on Eighth Avenue, Hill said, and the hospital is considering that option "very carefully," she said.
"The architects and construction people are working with the community feedback that we got this summer and trying as much as possible to revise the plans to meet their concerns while still keeping the hospital's programmatic needs in mind," Hill said.
Hospital officials will present their response to the community input this fall at two public meetings, one on Sept. 26 with the Community Board 6 Landmarks and Land Use Committee, and one with the Park Slope Civic Council on Sept. 30, Hill said.
The Civic Council — a nonprofit that works on neighborhood issues such as landmarking and beautification — announced recently that it's cutting the hospital as a "super-sponsor," a move that will cost the Civic Council $7,500.
Civic Council President Michael Cairl said in an email to members that the Civic Council needed to sever ties with the hospital so it could act as an "honest broker" representing the neighborhood's voice during the expansion.
The Civic Council has said architects on its board will "oversee and comment" on the proposed design for the hospital expansion. "And should construction take place, we will have one of our board members with experience in construction management, assisted by others, monitoring construction impacts and advocating on behalf of the community for NYMH to mitigate them," Cairl said in his message to members.
New York Methodist has dubbed its proposed new building "the Center for Community Health." If the hospital's plan is approved, the new facility will house 12 surgical suites, patient recovery rooms, an endoscopy suite with six special procedure rooms, a "comprehensive consolidated cancer center," an urgent care center, offices and a conference center.
Construction would begin in 2014 or 2015 and last roughly three years.