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‘Red Ink’ Village Hosp T5 Go Green

‘Red Ink’ Village Hosp T5 Go Green

New York Post 7/11/2007

By Angela Montefinise

Financially troubled St. Vincent’s Medical Center has partnered with a real-estate firm to advance plans to tear down its 151-year-old West Village building, build a state-of-the-art “green” hospital across the street and turn seven hospital buildings on Seventh Avenue into luxury housing.

“We have a memorandum of understanding” with The Rudin Organization, said Bernadette Kingham-Bez, senior vice president of St. Vincent’s. “The sale won’t be completed until we go to the land-use process . . . We will together propose something so that what they propose has to work with what we propose.”

The hospital official said the building plan and partnership was a way to cope with “the tight margins of being in health care.”

St. Vincent’s, which is coming out of bankruptcy, has been talking about building a new hospital since late last year, but discussed specific plans at a public meeting last month.

The hospital would demolish all of its current buildings – which Kingham-Bez described as “pretty archaic” – and rebuild the new hospital at the current site of the O’Toole Building, an outpatient-care facility on Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th streets.

Kingham-Bez said the size and cost of the new building was still up in the air.

What is known is that officials plan the structure to be environmentally friendly, using recycled materials, reusable on-site energy and water-conservation techniques, among other things.

St. Vincent’s remaining seven buildings on the other side of Seventh Avenue – including its current building – will be torn down and transformed into luxury housing under a preliminary plan.

Kingham-Bez said the hospital looked at renovating the current building, but said it would take 10 years and $350 million. “It just wasn’t a viable option,” she said, adding that it would disrupt patient care.

With the imminent closings of St. Vincent’s in Midtown and Cabrini Hospital in Chelsea, Kingham-Bez pointed out St. Vincent’s would be the only hospital between Battery Park City and 59th Street on the West Side of Manhattan. She said St. Vincent’s has already seen a 6 percent increase in emergency-room visits this year and is expecting more.

She pointed out that most floors at the current hospital don’t even have ceilings that are 14 feet high – a requirement for many modern procedures. She also said the hospital’s current space is not used efficiently – 40 percent of the O’Toole Building’s space is unusable, she said. In January, the hospital formed a Community Working Group of elected officials, community leaders and block associations to provide input in the planning process.

While some members are concerned luxury housing and a large hospital could make the new complex too dense for the neighborhood, Kingham-Bez said the hospital is working to ensure any new structure is “contextual and consistent with historical neighborhood” while still meeting “the growing health needs of the West Side.”

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