Rudin’s St. Vincent’s project completes public review

Credit: FX Fowle Architects

After City Council modifications, Rudin returned to Landmarks for approval to enlarge and reuse Reiss Pavilion. On March 28, 2012, the City Council modified the Rudin Management Company’s plan to redevelop the former St. Vincent’s Hospital Complex on Seventh Avenue in the Greenwich Village Historic District. The modified mixed-use residential project includes a new residential tower along Seventh Avenue, five townhouses along West 11th Street, and the preservation of the Reiss Pavilion on West 12th Street, which was slated for demolition. In addition, Rudin reduced the number of residential units from 450 to 350 units, and the size of an underground parking garage.

The project, which originally included a new hospital building for St. Vincent’s on the site of the O’Toole Building, has undergone multiple revisions over its four years of public review. The saga began in 2008, when Rudin and St. Vincent’s Hospital sought Landmarks approval for a joint proposal to redevelop the site. The plan included replacing the 1964 O’Toole Building on Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets across the street from St. Vincent’s Hospital with a new state-of-the-art hospital. After St. Vincent’s moved to the new building, Rudin would replace the former hospital complex with a 21-story residential tower and rows of three-story townhouses
along West 11th and West 12th Streets between Seventh and Sixth Avenues. Local residents and preservation groups opposed the proposal, and Landmarks asked Rudin and St. Vincent’s to consider a plan that would preserve more of the buildings. (read CityLand’s  coverage here).

Rudin and St. Vincent’s returned to Landmarks in June 2008 with a revised plan. The new design called for, among other things, a reduction in the heights of the new hospital and residential tower, and the preservation of four of the eight buildings originally slated for demolition. St. Vincent’s still proposed replacing the O’Toole Building with new hospital. Community groups criticized the revised proposal at
a public hearing, and Landmarks held off voting on the plan. (read CityLand’s  coverage here).

St. Vincent’s was ultimately compelled to file a hardship application with Landmarks to demolish the O’Toole Building, which Landmarks granted. A few months later, and after modifications, Landmarks approved the design for the new hospital building to replace the O’Toole Building. A coalition of community groups seeking to prevent the O’Toole’s demolition filed an article 78 petition challenging Landmarks’ approval of St. Vincent’s hardship application.

Meanwhile, Rudin still needed Landmarks to sign off on the project’s residential component. Landmarks in August 2009 approved a proposal that included a shorter residential tower facing Seventh Avenue, a ten-story building in place of the Reiss Pavilion, and five townhouses on West 11th Street. Rudin also agreed to preserve and reuse the Nurses’ Residence and the Smith and Raskob Buildings on West 12th Street, and the Spellman Pavilion on West 11th Street.

In 2010, however, St. Vincent’s declared bankruptcy and the hospital closed. Rudin purchased the O’Toole Building and donated it to North Shore-LIJ Health System, which agreed to use the building to house a comprehensive health center. In order to redevelop the former hospital site, Rudin needed to rezone portions of the block and obtain a variety of special permits.

When Rudin’s project reached the City Planning Commission’s public hearing in November 2011 residents and preservationists reiterated their opposition. Some opponents demanded that the project include affordable housing, and that Rudin be required to build a new full-service hospital facility. Others argued that the Reiss Pavilion should be preserved, while some residents were concerned that the 152-space underground garage would create traffic problems in an area that already had enough parking garages. A group, including representatives from the Queer History Alliance, argued that the Triangle Site should contain an AIDS memorial park and a learning center in recognition of St. Vincent’s early role in treating patients with HIV and AIDS. (read CityLand’s coverage here).

The Commission unanimously approved the post-St. Vincent’s proposal on January 23, 2012. In response to some of the concerns raised earlier, Rudin agreed to minor design modifications, which would be memorialized in a restrictive declaration, and to create an oversight board to monitor the redevelopment of the Triangle Site. (read CityLand’s coverage here and here).

Opponents continued their opposition at an over-capacity public hearing before the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee on March 6, 2012. One week later, Subcommittee Chair Mark Weprin announced that after extensive negotiations, Rudin had agreed to several additional modifications. Rudin, among other things, agreed not to demolish the Reiss Pavilion, contingent on obtaining Landmarks approval to enlarge and convert the building into apartments. Rudin also agreed to prohibit retail signage along West 12th Street, reduce the number of residential units by 22 percent, and build a smaller parking garage. In addition, Rudin agreed to pursue dedication of the Triangle Site as parkland, and to work with the community to incorporate an AIDS memorial into the park.

In a separate agreement secured by Speaker Christine C. Quinn, whose district includes the project, Rudin committed to providing financial assistance to convert the former Foundling Hospital at 16th Street and Sixth Avenue into a school, and to support arts programs at P.S. 3 and 41 in the neighborhood. Rudin will also provide financial assistance to MFY Legal Services, a non-profit affordable housing advocate.

The Subcommittee and Land Use Committee approved the modified proposal, and the City Council referred the plan back to the City Planning Commission to review the modifications. The Commission found that the modifications were within scope, and the City Council later approved the proposal by 49-1-0 vote, with only Council Member Charles Barron voting “No.”

The approved plan required yet another Landmarks review. On April 24, 2012, Landmarks approved Rudin’s adaptive reuse proposal for the Reiss Pavilion. The proposal, designed by FX Fowle Architects, included creating new entrances, altering windows, creating a new sixth-story cornice, and enlarging the three existing set-back floors above the cornice.

Review Process
Lead Agency: CPC, FEIS
Comm. Bd.: MN 2, 40-1-0
Boro. Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 12-0-0
Council: App’d, 49-1-0

Council: Rudin West Village (March 28, 2012).

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