Variance approved for 100- bed Village nursing facility

Six-story nursing home approved with enlarged floor plates and a side courtyard in lieu of rear yard. Village Care of New York, a not-for-profit entity and owner of 214 West Houston, an 11,253- square-foot lot in the West Village, proposed to replace an existing parking garage and construct a new six-story, 45,000-square-foot, 100- bed nursing home.

Village Care requested variances for lot coverage, rear yard, and setback requirements, arguing that the lot was shallow and irregularly shaped and that a complying structure would not meet the programmatic needs of the nursing home. The proposed nursing home calls for large floor plates to create an open, domestic environment rather than an institutional double-loaded corridor configuration. Village Care argued that the proposed layout was necessary to provide needed amenities such as private bathrooms, physical therapy, recreational space, respiratory infusion care, and wheelchair access. A complying plan would require smaller floor plates within a single ninestory building or two separate structures, and both scenarios would be impractical and inefficient due to the staffing and service needs required on every floor.

The community expressed concern that the proposed building would reduce light and air for residents of Downing Street. In lieu of a rear yard, Village Care proposed a 1,630-square-foot landscaped courtyard on the eastern side of the building that would create an open space on the center-line of the block. The proposal also called for light-colored, reflective walls surrounding the courtyard to increase the amount of light in the area. Additionally, Village Care submitted a shadow study to show that the proposed building would have little impact on the already dense, heavily shadowed block.

BSA determined that the lot’s unique physical conditions and the nursing home’s programmatic needs created unnecessary hardship and practical difficulties sufficient to warrant a variance. Village Care, as a not-for-profit, did not need to show that a compliant structure would fail to provide a reasonable return.

BSA: 214-218 West Houston Street (83- 05-BZ) (November 15, 2005) (Bryan Cave, LLP, for Village Care). CITYADMIN

CITYLAND Comment: Following the BSA approval, Village Care filed applications with the Planning Department, seeking approval for an increase in FAR from 2.43 to 4.8 and a zoning certification.

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