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After Long Road, St. Vincent’s Begins Public Review

st vincents hospital redevelopment project new york city

On Monday, August 22, the St. Vincent’s Redevelopment Project entered the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the process through which development projects are reviewed by the local Community Board, the Borough President, City Planning Commission, and the City Council.

Located in the West Village, the site is divided into three sections: the O’Toole Building, the Triangle Site and the East Site. The site’s nine buildings, built from the 1920s to the 1980s, are all located within the Greenwich Village Historic District. All of the buildings, except for O’Toole, were built by St. Vincent’s for use as a hospital, research or residences for employees. The O’Toole Building was originally built for the National Maritime Union of America, but was repurposed by St. Vincent’s for medical purposes.

st vincents hospital nyc redevelopment site map aerial view

Map of St. Vincent’s Redevelopment Site

In 2007, St. Vincent’s Hospital and Rudin Management Company announced plans to build a new 329-foot-tall hospital facility on the O’Toole Building site. The plans also included a new residential development with a 265-foot-high residential tower, two mid-sized buildings and rowhouse-scaled buildings.  The original plans called for the demolition of nine buildings, including the O’Toole Building, a distinctive modernist building designed by Albert Ledner.

After extensive public hearings and meetings, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) found that it was not appropriate to demolish five of the nine buildings, including O’Toole. That triggered a redesign of the residential complex to incorporate four of those buildings. In order to pursue their hospital application, Saint Vincent’s filed an application to demolish the O’Toole building under the Landmarks Law hardship provision. Under this provision, a non-profit property owner may be granted relief from the landmarks restrictions (i.e., permission to demolish or substantially redevelop the otherwise protected structure) provided that it demonstrates that maintaining the existing building prevents the organization from fulfilling its charitable purpose. In the case of O’Toole, St. Vincent’s argued that the O’Toole Building could not accommodate a hospital use and that demolition was necessary in order for the organization to carry out its role as a hospital and trauma center. Ultimately, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved St. Vincent’s hardship application and Rudin’s revised residential development.

Concerned about procedural and precedential issues related to the hardship application, MAS, the National Trust, the New York Landmarks Conservancy and other preservation groups filed a brief in the matter of Protect the Village Historic District v. LPC.  MAS did not oppose St. Vincent’s plans to develop a modern hospital facility; rather MAS’ primary interest was in protecting the integrity of the Landmarks Law.

In April 2010, St. Vincent’s declared bankruptcy. At that time, they withdrew their hardship application, which resulted in the lawsuit becoming moot.

Since St. Vincent’s closed its operations, Rudin has formed a partnership with the North-Shore Long Island Jewish Health System to insert a healthcare facility into a rehabilitated O’Toole Building. The plans released by Rudin in May 2011 include the rehabilitation of the O’Toole Building, in addition to plans to create new residential buildings on the East Site and developing public open space on the Triangle Site.

On August 2, 2011, LPC voted unanimously to approve the restoration program for the O’Toole Building. MAS submitted a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in support of the preservation plan.As this project advances through ULURP, MAS will keep a close eye on its progress.