LPC orders revision of St. Vincent’s expansion

May 06, 2008 01:31PM

The Landmark Preservation Commission has called for substantial revisions of the expansion of St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers in Greenwich Village.

All ten commissioners voiced their opposition to the demolition of the O’Toole building.  

Commissioner Margery Perlmutter, a Manhattan architect, said the modernist O’Toole building “is an important building for sociological, social, historical and architectural reasons. We should not allow it to be destroyed.” The building at 36 Seventh Avenue, designed by Albert Ledner 1963, occupies more than half the block on Seventh Avenue, between 12th and 13th streets.

St. Vincent’s, a Village nonprofit since 1855, wants to sell several buildings, including the main hospital on Seventh Avenue, to Rudin Management. Rudin would build a hospital tower on the current two-story site and a 21-story Luxury Condo Tower Across Seventh Avenue.

The commission did not take a formal vote on the project, said LPC spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon. Most commissioners said that the luxury condo tower was too tall and out of character for the historic neighborhood, she said. Some commissioners said the proposed development of residential rowhouses could be appropriate with some design modifications, she said.

The plan calls for the demolition of nine hospital buildings. All 10 commissioners said they supported demolishing the Link and Coleman buildings, built in the 1980s, while eight said they supported demolishing the Reiss Pavilion on West 12th Street and seven said they supported demolishing the Cronin building on West 11th Street.

On the east side of Seventh Avenue, all ten commissioners opposed the demolition of two buildings (called Smith and Raskob), nine commissioners opposed demolishing the Nurses building at 148-158 West 12th Street and six opposed the demolition of the Spellman building at 143-147 West 11th Street.

A new 321-foot-high hospital building would replace the O’Toole building and become the tallest tower in the Greenwich Village Historic District.

Rudin plans to buy the seven buildings that make up the hospital’s campus on Seventh Avenue between 11th and 12th streets. In their place, Rudin plans to construct 450 units of luxury housing along with 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and an underground parking garage. In January, John Gilbert, Rudin’s chief operating officer, told The Real Deal that the company would buy the site for about $325 million and build the 265-foot Luxury Condo Tower Fronting Seventh Avenue, as well as 19 mid-block townhouses split between 11th and 12th streets.

St. Vincent’s and Rudin could try again to get the demolitions approved under the hardship provision of the city’s landmarks law.

Developer William C. Rudin said in a statement after the hearing that he hoped to “identify a viable alternative that would address the concerns of the commission and the community.”

Henry J. Amoroso, president of St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, told The Times that he saw in the commissioners’ comments “a call for further dialog,” and would accept Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney’s invitation to take a “deep breath, and see how we want to proceed.”

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for
Historic Preservation, hailed the commission’s comments in a statement.
“St. Vincent’s and Rudin were essentially told to go back to the
drawing boards and come up with a plan which is consistent with
landmarks law and with the character of the surrounding Greenwich
Village Historic District,” he said.

The Municipal Art Society also lauded the commissioners’ statements.

“The Landmarks Preservation Commission today took a strong stance to protect the integrity of the city’s historic districts and ultimately the Landmarks Law,” said Lisa Kersavage of MAS. TRD