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Carter's View

Community Board 2 held a very crowded public hearing last night at PS 41 on building plans by St. Vincent's Hospital to build a new, 330-foot-high hospital building on the site of the very distinctive, nautically-styled O'Toole Building on the west side of Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets and plans to demolish nine of its existing buildings on the east side of Seventh Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets where the Rudin Organization plans to build a residential complex with about 500 units.

The new residential buildings would include a 265-foot-high building on the avenue and low-rise buildings on the side-streets.

The sites fall within the Greenwich Village Historic District and the Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to hold a hearing on the hospital's plans in April. The commission will rule on the appropriateness of the proposed demolitions as well as the appropriateness of the designs for new structures.

Some speakers criticized the hospital for plans to discontinue "affordable" housing for some of its staff residents and many members of the audience wore stickers proclaiming "Don't Destroy the Historic District."

The community board is expected to vote on whether to recommend that the commission approve the plans at its March 20 meeting.

A coalition of neighborhood organizations, including the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, has proposed an "alternative" plan that would lower the height of the proposed new hospital building from about 330 feet to about 190 feet and calls for a second new hospital building on the east side of the avenue that might be connected to the one on the west side by a tunnel under the avenue.

An article by Albert Amateau in the February 22, 2008 edition of The Villager, stated that hospital officials were drafting a response to the community plan that was presented to the hospital January 28, and that the officials said that the New York State Department of Health "would not approve a new hospital complex that would require patients to be brought down in an elevator in one building and taken up a second elevator in another building."

The article quoted Bernadette Kingham-Bez, St. Vincent's senior vice president for communications and planning, that the tunnel under Seventh Avenue, running between hospital buildings on 12th St. on the east side of the avenue, to the small building and loading dock in the triangle on the west side, is used to move hospital material, equipment and waste by hand carts and for storage, adding that the tunnel does not connect under 12th St. to the O'Toole Building.

The triangle was formerly occupied by the Loew's Sheridan movie theater, the largest in Greenwich Village.

The tunnel was built by the hospital with a revocable permit from the city. Ms. Kingham-Bez told The Villager that dual hospital buildings on both sides of the avenue would present an insurmountable obstacle to phasing the change from the old to the new facility.

Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said that the hospital's "precedent-setting proposal...has drawn opposition not only from throughout the Village but from across the city," adding that "St. Vincent's and Rudin are proposing to build the two largest buildings ever built in Greenwich Village and ever approved in any historic district in New York City."
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.