Judge Approves Sale of St. Vincent’s Campus to Developers
The New York Times 4/7/2011
By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
A plan to build a luxury housing development and an emergency medical center in Greenwich Village came a step closer to reality on Thursday as a federal bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the bankrupt St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan campus.
The judge, Cecelia G. Morris, approved the $260 million sale to the Rudin development family and the North Shore-Long Island Jewish hospital system despite vociferous opposition from a small group of community activists who have been arguing for the creation of a new full-service hospital on the site where St. Vincent’s had operated for more than 160 years.
One opponent, Alan J. Gerson, a former city councilman who lives in the area, asked for more time to present a rival buyer, but the judge declined.
The sale was unanimously supported by St. Vincent’s creditors, including GE Capital, who are owed about $1 billion, according to Kenneth Eckstein, the lead lawyer for St. Vincent’s.
The hospital, which was the last general Catholic hospital in New York City, declared bankruptcy a year ago.
Mr. Eckstein told the judge that the hospital had spent three months looking for a buyer before declaring bankruptcy and that it was unrealistic to expect a better offer to materialize in the current economic environment.
Mr. Eckstein said later, outside of court, that North Shore-L.I.J. was willing to work with the community to try to make the new health center as close to what the residents wanted as it could be. “Today is the beginning of that process, not the end,” he said.
The sale would allow the Rudin family to build 590,000 square feet of apartments and town houses on the east part of the campus. North Shore-L.I.J. plans to spend $110 million to turn the O’Toole building across the street into a 24-hour emergency care and walk-in surgery facility. North Shore-L.I.J. officials said, if approved by the State Health Department, the facility would be the first of its kind in the city.
Fall 2013 is the projected opening date for the health center. Michael Dowling, the chief executive of North Shore-L.I.J., and Bill Rudin, of the Rudin family, hailed the court’s decision in a joint statement and said the housing and medical center plan was “a great deal for the community.”