Rudin/St. Vincent’s Plan In Doubt
Earlier this week came the dramatic announcement that St. Vincent’s Hospital might file a second bankruptcy and is seeking a takeover from other hospitals. A current offer by another network would take over St. Vincent’s and turn it into a scaled down outpatient center, which apparently St. Vincent’s and the State Health Department (which would have to approve such a change) are considering, but which local elected officials are said to oppose. According to published reports, after emerging from its first bankruptcy in 2007, St. Vincent’s was advised to partner with another hospital system to prevent further financial troubles, but instead chose to pursue its plan for a new hospital partly funded by a real estate development deal with the Rudin Company. Apparently this approach could not keep them financially solvent.
These most recent developments have put the hospital plan and the Rudin development plan in doubt. While the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) had approved a revised version of the hospital and Rudin plan, both still required large scale zoning changes which had not yet been granted, though the long approval process had begun. Whether the original plan will continue to be pursued — by St. Vincent’s or another provider — or a new plan will emerge remains to be seen. These most recent developments do, however, speak to an issue GVSHP was first to highlight when the rezoning review process for the project began—that the requested zoning changes could allow a larger project than was on the table, and there were no guarantees that the hospital and residential development plans might not change in the future and seek to exploit these greater allowances.
Until new plans emerge, it is unclear which approvals already granted may still be applicable and which processes may have to begin again. In addition to the lack of required zoning approvals, a lawsuit challenging the ‘hardship’ finding allowing the demolition of the O’Toole Building, in which GVSHP signed on to an amicus brief, remains in effect. GVSHP will continue to monitor the situation carefully and keep the public posted about new developments which might affect plans for the site.