Landmarks Approves St. Vincent’s Hospital Tower
Last Tuesday the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted 8 to 3 to approve St. Vincent’s revised plans for a new hospital tower on the site of the O’Toole building at 13th Street and 7th Avenue. Last spring the LPC voted unanimously that it was not “appropriate” to allow demolition of the O’Toole building and four other hospital buildings, but this fall voted 6 to 4 to allow demolition of the O’Toole building in response to St. Vincent’s hardship application. St. Vincent’s initial planned a 329 ft. tall hospital tower on the O’Toole site which was reduced to 299 feet this fall. At Tuesday’s LPC meeting St. Vincent’s presented a further revised plan with the height reduced to 286 feet (St. Vincent’s said it would be a “visible” height of 279 feet, because the uppermost floor would be set back and invisible) and some minor changes to the facade. The LPC’s quick vote to approve was highly unusual in that the public had been given no prior opportunity to view the revised plan, and the new design was not made available to the public through St. Vincent’s website (as prior iterations had been) or any other means even after the approval. Curbed.com did get images of the revised design, which can be viewed here. See coverage of the vote in the New York Times, NY1, and on Globe Street.
The LPC also approved a plan for the triangular site across the street from O’Toole where a new materials handling facility would be built and a small public space would be designed by St. Vincent’s as per an agreement with local elected officials and Community Board #2.
GVSHP has consistently supported the ability of St. Vincent’s hospital to modernize and update its facilities. However, we have also expressed serious concerns about the basis of its hardship claim and the precedent it would set for all historic districts throughout New York City, as well as taking issue with several key aspects of the Rudin condo development plan attached to the new hospital plan. While the LPC has now approved the O’Toole demolition and new hospital tower, the Rudin condo plan still requires LPC approval, and both require the approval of the City Planning Commission and the City Council. A lawsuit has also been filed challenging the basis for the hardship approval.