Avella lays over vote on Hospital expansion plan

Hospital seeking loading-berth waiver and access to esplanade for placement of support columns. On September 16, 2008, the City Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee held a public hearing concerning the Hospital for Special Surgery’s applications for special permits to construct a three-story addition to its East Wing building and a 12- story outpatient center atop a 21-ft. high platform over the FDR Drive between East 71st Street and the mid-block line of 72nd Street. The proposed facility, known as the River Building, would connect to the East Wing Building by an enclosed pedestrian bridge over East 71st Street. The Subcommittee also heard testimony regarding a proposed demapping of portions of the FDR Drive and East River Esplanade to allow the hospital to construct four support columns for the River Building, and a text amendment to allow the hospital to use two existing loadingberths to satisfy the loadingberth requirement triggered by the new construction. 5 CityLand 124 (September 15, 2008).

At the hearing, Council Member Jessica Lappin asked representatives of the hospital to respond to concerns raised by opponents regarding an increase in traffic congestion that might occur from reliance on only two loading berths. Fried Frank LLP attorney Melanie Meyers, representing the hospital, stated that the hospital believed “from an operational standpoint” there would be no additional delivery trucks as a result of the expansion. As a precaution, however, the hospital would take measures to address congestion, including consolidation of deliveries, shifting delivery times to later in the day, and redirecting some deliveries to a loading zone on East 70th Street.

Though not opposed to expansion in principle, opponents believed that a better plan was needed to reduce environmental impact. Zarin and Steinmetz attorney Dan Richmond, representing residents of the Edgewater at 530 East 72nd Street, stated that there were feasible design alternatives that would allow uninterrupted access to the esplanade and protect the Edgewater residents’ panoramic view of the East River, but these alternatives were not adequately discussed during the land use process.

Subcommittee Chair Tony Avella laid over the vote until October 2 and the hearing was closed.

Council: Hearing on Hospital for Special Surgery (Sept. 16, 2008).

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