Tuesday presented the last chance for people with a vested interest in the future of the former St. Vincent's Hospital site in Manhattan to testify on the record before the City Council votes for or against a controversial redevelopment plan. Manhattan borough reporter Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.
The battle lines were clearly drawn on Tuesday, the community versus the developer.
Greenwich Village residents told the City Council's Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises they would not stop fighting for a full service hospital to replace St. Vincent's, but the developer who bought the campus after it went bankrupt said he has a different vision, one reached with community input.
"We adapted our designs probably half a dozen times, lowering the height, lowering the bulk, saving the buildings. Our initial design did not have saving any of the buildings, so we've now had five buildings that are going to be saved," said Rudin West Village Associates managing partner Bill Rudin.
Four new buildings will be built as well. Rudin West Village Associates presented its plan to the City Council subcommittee on Tuesday, outlining its bid to turn the shuttered hospital into 450 luxury condos.
The plan also includes a park on Seventh Avenue, a new public school nearby and a free-standing Emergency Department.
"It's the best and only realistic plan to bring new jobs, health care, green space and an elementary school to the West Side," said plan supporter Mary Margaret Amato.
The Rudin plan calls for North Shore-LIJ to run the stand-alone emergency medical department in the O'Toole building, which will house medical offices. Some residents said that is not enough.
"I don't believe the 450 people who are going to occupy the luxury apartments really need to worry about an emergency room, but the half-million people who live and work in the West Village do," said plan opponent George Capsis.
While the Rudin plan claims it is 17-percent less bulky than St. Vincent's was, local preservationists cried foul.
"No matter how you slice it, no matter how many side agreements are attached to it, no matter how nice a park may come with it, this is simply wrong," said preservationist Andrew Berman. "It's wrong for this site, it's wrong for this neighborhood, it's wrong for New York City."
The subcommittee will vote on the Rudin plan in the near future, and then it will go to the Land Use Committee and ultimately the full City Council. While the date for that vote is not set yet, the city says it has to happen on or before March 28.