In a 9-to-1 vote Tuesday, the Landmark Preservation Commission has given the green light to Rudin Management to build an approximately 200-foot apartment tower in the place of the existing St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village. The move, a major step toward the creation of a new St. Vincent’s Hospital, comes as preservationists have been vigorously opposing the new development, saying that it is grossly out of scale in the low-rise neighborhood.
“They [the Rudins and St. Vincent’s] have dramatically refashioned the proposal along the way,” LPC chair Robert B. Tierney said while expressing his support at the meeting. He added that while the existing hospital buildings they approved to be demolished are part of the story of New York City, “those buildings themselves do not contribute in any significant way to the telling of that story.”
In addition to the new apartment building and new hospital (which would take the place of the modernist O’Toole Building), LPC approved the construction of a residential infill building as well as five new townhouses. With four more buildings being adapted into townhouses, that’s 12 buildings in all.
It was enough to make Bill Rudin smile.
“We’re obviously very excited about the 9-to-1 vote,” he said after the meeting. “It’s a little bit smaller, but by and large we got the project.”
“This was one very, very significant hurdle,” said Henry J. Amoroso, president of St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers. “I don’t want to jinx myself by saying that it was the greatest hurdle, but it was substantial.”
The vote comes more than two years since the hospital first announced its proposal to build a new building across the street from its existing complex on Seventh Avenue, along with the Rudin apartments that would help finance the deal. The city-controlled LPC came back in meeting after meeting on the topic, and, in the end, caused the Rudin building to shrink by about 60 feet down to the current version, at about 200 feet high.
All is not done and sealed up just yet. The proposal now must go through the city’s land use review process, a seven-month ordeal where the community board gives a recommendation and the City Council must approve any final plan.
Architect Daniel J. Kaplan presented a redesigned model that responded to eight concerns from the LPC, including that the residential tower’s design was “too tall,” too “mechanical,” and “too bulky,” and that the new buildings—including several townhouses—needed to look “more distinct” from one another.
Although most LPC members supported the plan—giving particular due to the townhouses’ charming “fenestration”—Margery H. Perlmutter defenestrated those compliments.
“Most of the commissioners have commented with great approval on the townhouses because they’re great, they’re easy to comment on,” said Ms. Perlmutter, who was the only commissioner to vote against the proposal. “But we haven’t had the chance to do that with these much larger buildings, which haven’t been praised for their great excellence and design qualities.”