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Thread: St. Vincent's Hospital (7th Ave) - Redevelopment Plan

  1. #61

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    I don't know much about Berman and the G.V.S.H.P., but just reading through some of these remarks:

    Quote Originally Posted by ASchwarz View Post
    Please explain how he represents the West Village, or general citywide historical preservation interests? He has no background in historic preservation and his "organization" has no other workers besides interns.

    please explain how Berman represents the opinions of West Villager moreso than any other resident??

    Well, yes, given what I have been told (and I certainly don't know everything about the man) Berman is no different than any other hired gun.

    I'm not claiming he's engaging in criminal, or even necessarily unethical, behavior. I just wonder why 1. He is front and center in every issue of the Villager and 2. He is considered the public "voice" of the West Village on all matters relating to development.

    After all, there are many prominent and media-savvy people in the Village. Why does Berman dominate every issue and why is he always portrayed as the voice of the "community"?

    Why not at least go to an elected head, such as the city councilperson? Wouldn't that be closer to a community representative?

    Similarly, there are many Manhattan organizations that are active in land-use planning issues. Why are downtown planning issues always ending up with commentary or involvement from Berman, rather than commentary or involvement from more established groups? When's the last time MAS was quoted in the Villager?
    No one anywhere represents everyone. But if you don't speak, you either agree or don't care. You can't assume otherwise. I refer you to the proposal to landmark the "South Village."

    The three year study was undertaken by G.V.S.H.P. These reports are expensive. since they involve private property and law, you can't just throw something together and submit it.

    The group commissioned Andrew S. Dolkart, associate professor of historic preservation at Columbia University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

    "The Soho Alliance has signed on as a supporter of the proposed historic district, along with the Central Village, Carmine St., Bedford-Downing, West Houston, Morton St., Vandam St. and Charlton St. block associations."

    The Historic Districts Council has included this proposal on their website.

    As for enlisting elected officials, where is Tierney and the LPC? It's their job to determine worthy neighborhoods and conduct the research; it seems like G.V.S.H.P. has done the work for them.

    So who else speaks for Greenwich Village, NYU?

  2. #62

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    ^^You haven't disproven or proven anything. Just more gossip, venom, unsubstantiated factual assertions and a fetid swamp of jealousies and hidden agendas. You've repeatedly said, for example, that only "paid interns" and no staff work for GVSHP. No proof of that then and none now. There couldn't be -- it's not true.

    You've been waging a long, sad and often comical campaign against Berman and the GVSHP. Not so long ago, you wrote:

    Organizational funding and Berman's salary are provided by wealthy West Villagers/Downtowners intent on controlling neighborhood conditions. Despite the organizational name, he has weak links to traditional historical preservation groups and almost no links to academics/practitioners (such as at Columbia's highly regarded Historic Preservation Program).
    You still haven't named even one of these shadowy "wealthy" benefactors. In reality, GVSHP's financial supporters are numerous and diverse and include the State of New York and groups of unimpeachable integrity and reputation. You've argued that the Society lacks recognition in established historic preservation circles. That's manifestly untrue:

    http://www.gvshp.org/honors.htm

    Unless you like the look of egg on your face, you shouldn't have mentioned "weak links" to "Columbia's highly regarded Historic Preservation Program." The Society's single largest mission today is advocating for the creation of a South Village Historic District, based largely upon a survey and report commissioned by the Society (and funded by the New York State Council on the Arts and Preservation League of New York State) and prepared by Columbia's Andrew S. Dolkart:

    http://gvshp.org/documents/SouthVill...tReportPDF.pdf

    Given the LPC's chronic underfunding and current sloth, it falls to groups like the Society to fill the gap. The recent designations of the Gansevoort Market Historic District and the GV HD Extension would never have happened without the Society's dogged and scholarly work, including its commissioning of the neighborhood surveys and reports that were the bases of the LPC's own historic district designation reports.

    Like Lofter1, by the way, whom you once accused of being one of "Andrew Berman's acoyltes," a Berman "parrot," and a liar (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showth...man#post111197), I have never met Andrew Berman. I disagree with him as often as I agree (and sure wish that he'd never again denounce "undulating glass" buildings). But your slander-rich, fact-starved tirades against the man and his employer contribute nothing to enlightened discourse or reasoned advocacy.
    Last edited by ManhattanKnight; June 3rd, 2007 at 02:44 PM.

  3. #63
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Plus he doesn't do any kind of genuine research.

  4. #64

  5. #65

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    ^Wondering about that myself!

  6. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by ManhattanKnight View Post
    ^^You haven't disproven or proven anything. Just more gossip, venom, unsubstantiated factual assertions and a fetid swamp of jealousies and hidden agendas. You've repeatedly said, for example, that only "paid interns" and no staff work for GVSHP. No proof of that then and none now. There couldn't be -- it's not true.

    You've been waging a long, sad and often comical campaign against Berman and the GVSHP. Not so long ago, you wrote:

    Organizational funding and Berman's salary are provided by wealthy West Villagers/Downtowners intent on controlling neighborhood conditions. Despite the organizational name, he has weak links to traditional historical preservation groups and almost no links to academics/practitioners (such as at Columbia's highly regarded Historic Preservation Program).
    You still haven't named even one of these shadowy "wealthy" benefactors. In reality, GVSHP's financial supporters are numerous and diverse and include the State of New York and groups of unimpeachable integrity and reputation. You've argued that the Society lacks recognition in established historic preservation circles. That's manifestly untrue:

    http://www.gvshp.org/honors.htm

    You probably shouldn't have mentioned "weak links" to "Columbia's highly regarded Historic Preservation Program." The Society's single largest mission today is advocating for the creation of a South Village Historic District, based largely upon a survey and report commissioned by the Society (and funded by the New York State Council on the Arts and Preservation League of New York State) and prepared by Columbia's Andrew S. Dolkart:

    http://gvshp.org/documents/SouthVill...tReportPDF.pdf

    Like Lofter1, by the way, whom you once accused of being one of "Andrew Berman's acoyltes," a Berman "parrot," and a liar (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showth...man#post111197), I have never met Andrew Berman. I disagree with him as often as I agree (and sure wish that he'd never again denounce "undulating glass" buildings). But your slander-rich, fact-starved tirades against the man and his employer contribute nothing to enlightened discourse or reasoned advocacy.
    Utter nonsense, ManhattanKnight. If you worship at the altar of Berman, say so and be done with it. Don't go off disparaging any forumers who might have opinions different from yours.

    You are basically saying that I am unable to comment on any public figure unless I have essentially written an award-winning and independently-verified PhD dissertation on the man and his mission. I fully expect that, going forward, all comments on Wired New York will be limited to fabulously-informed experts who have done years of exhaustive research on the subject matter. Any aesthetic criticism of Sam Chang's hotels, for instance, may only be made by Pritzker Prize winners. Any criticism by any other parties is automatically invalid and must necessarily be motivated by "bile and venom".

    My comments on the Columbia School of Historic Preservation are absolutely on-target. I was fortunate to take two classes in the Preservation school in '04 and '05, which is where I learned about Berman's M.O. from real preservationists. The fact that a member of the Columbia faculty is being paid to examine a Berman initiative does not validate his aims in the historic preservation community. Does the fact that Sam Chang has a number of paid architects mean that he is well-regarded in the architectural community?

    The South Village landmark initiative is yet another example of Berman's attempts to stop developers and NYU. It has nothing to do with historic preservation. The reason Berman and his supporters are funding the initiative is to stop NYU and private developers from developing sites they already own. I used to live in West 3rd/Thompson and know every building in the area. The neighborhood, as a whole, is not remotely landmark-worthy. It's like every other tenement neighborhood in the city. The reason it is being considered for landmarking is because Berman and his benefactors have a great deal of power, and have cultivated allies on the City Council. Granted, there are individual buildings or clusters of buildings that may be landmark-worthy, but on the whole, there is nothing different in the South Village from every other tenement neighborhood in the city.

    NYU is the main target. Berman hopes the previous downzoning + the landmarking will halt any southward growth. I hope Landmarks and Bloomberg stand up to Berman, but it hasn't happened in the past. One can hope.

    As for your claims that the GVSHP is not a one man operation funded by wealthy benefactors (along with paid interns), I am not revealing contacts on the Wired New York page. I can email or message you verification, provided I can stay anonymous and you will not distribute or publicly comment on the info. Granted, it is entirely possible that Berman's group has evolved, but I am 100% confident in my contacts regarding his "society" as of a few years back.

  7. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    Plus he doesn't do any kind of genuine research.

    Stache, I fully expect that all your future Wired New York comments will include full academic citations of any claims made.

  8. #68
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    My problem with Berman is that he's always saying the same thing, no matter what the development. His reach has extended well beyond just Greenwich Village, and beyond the nominal goal of his society for preservation. He now speaks for several different communities, about all kinds of developments that have nothing to do with structures that either are or deserve to be preserved.

    Whether his credentials as a preservationist are legitimate, and whether he's viewed by others in the preservationists' community as a good leader, is irrelevant for me. I find it hard to believe that, given the breadth of his involvement, and the level of wealth among the community he's representing, that Berman is functioning solely as a preservationist. What upsets me personally is when he claims to know what's best for the community in situations (like this one) where he has no right to. The hospital has been around for a long time, doubtless longer than the current makeup of the community. The allusion in the article to the Chelsea Seminary preservation battle only upsets me more, because the preservationists there managed to prevent the seminary - a presence in the community for nearly 200 years - from capitalizing on its property in such a way to shore up its finances and carry out necessary renovations. Berman's calling for something similar here, and in my view, it's painfully obvious the hospital's needs should be put above the community's interests.

  9. #69

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    My issue with Berman and other preservationists is that they often don't come out of the woodwork until new developments surface, costing developers millions. If these structures were so landmark-worthy why not seek to get them designated before a developer comes along to tear it down?

    I can understand the average-Joe not knowing what's landmarked and what's not until the scaffolding goes up, but if you have this alleged society dedicated to preserving the architectural merits of a building or area, what the hell were you doing before development plans were drawn up? Apparently Berman's organization is incompetent if they only realize the merits when it's slated for demolition...makes one question their motives.

    On their website it states the society was founded to "preserve the architectural heritage and cultural history of the Village." What history will be lost preserving the parking lot at 122 Greenwich? What heritage will be wiped away demolishing St. Vincent Hospital buildings? Apparently anything modern and larger than townhouse will decimate the Village's architectural heritage. His tired arguments always come down to size and the use of glass vs. brick, not even the LPC is so black and white. Can't modern architecture co-exist beautifully with the historic, adding to the area's heritage?

    I find it funny that now GVSHP desperately wants to landmark the Silver Towers along with the nondescript supermarket that's part of the complex. Coincidentally NYU is looking at the supermarket site for a new building. Of course we all know that the Silver Towers represent the architectural heritage Berman wants to preserve, right? Please. There's no way in hell they would allow those towers to be built now and are just abusing landmark designation.


    Kudos to him for actually getting in early with the St. Vincent's plans, though his no development stance is ill conceived. Why not look at this as an opportunity to create something nice. I'd also commend him on some things like fighting illegal ads and driving for the South Village historic district, but even that seems Nimby driven. Landmark designation shouldn't be a reaction to the real estate market. Fortunately, the Village is already a great place and the new crap that is thrown up often does more harm than good. I guess there's no better place to have an obstructionist...err "preservationist." All in all Berman is an ass and LPC is incompetent.

  10. #70
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Schwarz figured it out.

  11. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by ASchwarz View Post
    Utter nonsense, ManhattanKnight. If you worship at the altar of Berman, say so and be done with it. Don't go off disparaging any forumers who might have opinions different from yours.
    The way I read his point is that you're advancing opinions as facts. Your comment:
    The fact that a member of the Columbia faculty is being paid to examine a Berman initiative does not validate his aims in the historic preservation community. Does the fact that Sam Chang has a number of paid architects mean that he is well-regarded in the architectural community?
    is based on your OPINION of the proposal to designate the south Village. The FACT is Dalton was hired to produce, not "examine" (your factual error), the report. That you don't like the result is merely your opinion; others may differ.

  12. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    Schwarz figured it out.
    I wasn't sure, but i would have guessed ASchwarz.

    It seemed to fit.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    My problem with Berman is that he's always saying the same thing, no matter what the development.
    Got to agree with that point.

  14. #74

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    Architect not chosen yet for St. Vincent's rebuilding plans 14-JUN-07

    The Greenwich Village Block Associations held a meeting last night at St. Vincent's Hospital to hear a presentation by the hospital on its plans to develop a new hospital facility on the site of the Edward and Theresa O'Toole Medical Services building on the northwest corner of 12th Street and Seventh Avenue and to have the Rudin family redevelop its existing buildings on the east side of Seventh Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets.

    Benedette Kingham-Bez, a senior vice president at the hospital, told the meeting that an architect for the building will be chosen in the next four to six weeks and that a strategic planning consultant will be retained in about a month.

    The hospital, which was created 149 years ago, now serves as the only trauma center on the West Side from the Battery to 59th Street and that that area is undergoing very significant population growth that requires a 21st Century medical facility..

    Most of the speakers at the meeting spoke in opposition to the hospital's plans, questioning whether it had considered other locations, whether it could simply renovate its existing buildings, and whether it could not demolish the O'Toole building, which was built in 1964 as the National Maritime Union of America Building and was designed by Albert C. Ledner & Associates. It was described by Norval White and Elliot Willensky in their book, "The A. I. A. Guide to New York City, Third Edition," as a "double-dentured monument" and is notable for its nautical motif.

    A couple of speakers criticized the hospital for not creating a community garden on the site of the Loew's Sheridan movie theater it demolished on the triangular block to the south of the O'Toole Building that is used now as a loading facility by the hospital.

    On June 5, the Bankruptcy Court entered an order approving the hospital's plan of reorganization and approving its "memorandum of understanding' with the Rudin family as its development partner.

    Dr. George Neuman, the head of the hospital's anesthesiology department, said that a new facility will enable the hospital to have single- rather than double-bedded rooms that are flexible to serve as intensive care, urgent care and regular hospital rooms, and operating rooms that can perform "Advanced Image Guided Surgery." He also emphasized that technology has changed substantially and that the new facility will enable the hospital to have "negative pressure" rooms and greatly improved air exchange systems.
    Ms. Kingham-Bez told the meeting that 40 percent of the O'Toole building

    was "not useable" and that it was the hospital's "intent to stay in Greenwich Village." She said that its present room count of 723 would be reduced in the new plans.

    Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, urged that the hospital not to increase its "overall density, and said his organization feels "strongly that the triangle bounded by Greenwich Avenue, West 12th Street, and 7th Avenue should not be built upon, and should serve as more of a public amenity and green space than it currently does, and as had always been promised."

    Marlene Nadel challenged the hospital to avoid "greedification" and to include "affordable housing" in its plans, "not Bloomberg style with $60,000 to $100,000 incomes," and "thirty percent" of the units. John Gilbert, the chief operating officer of the Rudin organization, responded that "it is very difficult to create any affordable housing with the amount of money we will pay."
    Ms. Kingham-Bez said that the hospital created a community working group and that its plans will have to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the City Planning Commission.

    http://www.cityrealty.com/new_developments/

  15. #75
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    St. Vincent's Unveils Big Building Plans


    By ELIZABETH SOLOMONT
    Staff Reporter of the Sun
    October 11, 2007

    St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan disclosed detailed plans yesterday for the $700 million "green" facility it hopes to build that would replace its aging medical center in Greenwich Village.

    Ending months of speculation, St. Vincent's outlined plans to construct a 21-story hospital across the street from its facility on Seventh Avenue, on a site between 12th and 13th streets that is occupied by the O'Toole Building.

    Together with a plan to raze the old facility and build luxury housing on that site, the 625,000-square-foot hospital would be part of the largest development project in Greenwich Village in 50 years, a phenomenon — and a concern — not lost on nearby residents.

    Unlike the public outcry over condominium and hotel developments in recent years, however, this project pits neighbors against a hospital where many have received care.

    Concern over a new medical facility also follows an uncertain period for hospitals citywide, after the New York State Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century last year recommended closure for nine New York hospitals, five in the city.

    The construction is also part of a larger reorganization plan conceived by the operator of St. Vincent's, Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, which emerged from bankruptcy in August.

    At the crux of the community's concern, therefore, is not whether St. Vincent's should stay in the neighborhood and update its facility, but rather how the proposed construction would change the neighborhood's historic landscape.

    "We're all in agreement that St. Vincent's needs to stay on and modernize," the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Andrew Berman, said yesterday. "The big concern is that it is going to be very big. It's the size of the new hospital, plus the hundreds of thousands of square feet of luxury housing."

    Last night, the president and chief executive officer of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, Henry Amoroso, reiterated the hospital's position that its current facility cannot physically accommodate the necessary upgrades. The current hospital comprises seven separate buildings, with the oldest, the Nurses Residence, dating back to 1924. "Our floor plates are really too small to accommodate the high-tech equipment needed today," Mr. Amoroso said.

    The new plans, with fewer square feet than the current hospital, would offer increased floor space. It would also house 365 beds, 18 operating rooms, and a state-of-the-art emergency room and trauma center.

    Officials said financing would come from a fund-raising campaign and the sale of its old facility to the Rudin family for an undisclosed amount. For their part, the Rudins plan to raze the old hospital to make room for 650,000 square feet of high-end housing, or an estimated 450 units.

    According to preliminary plans, the development includes 19 mid-block townhouses, a mid-rise building, and a 21-story building fronting Seventh Avenue. There would also be 15,000 square feet of street-level retail space, underground parking, and 22,500 square feet of medical office space.

    For months, residents of Greenwich Village have expressed reservations about the project, and last night they aired concerns about a lack of affordable housing. Others were pleased, however, with apparent changes made to the hospital plans that were a product of conversations between hospital officials and a community working group.

    Prior to last night's presentation, Mayor Koch — who was recently named co-chairman of a group supporting the redevelopment plans, Friends of the New St. Vincent's — emphasized that the hospital is trying to be transparent in its plans moving forward.

    "Community opposition is to be expected particularly in Greenwich Village, to any structure where it is a large structure," he said. "I think that the community needs them," he also said, referring to the hospital.

    Last month, a hospital-commissioned survey of 600 people living inside its service area indicated that 60% of Greenwich Village residents supported the redevelopment plans.

    To be sure, the hospital faces a lengthy approval process.

    Complicating the typical development considerations is the fact that the neighborhood is a designated historic district. As such, the plans must receive approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission before the hospital seeks zoning approval from the Department of City Planning.

    The City Council has final say over whether the plans may go forward, and Community Board 2 is expected to hold public hearings and to weigh in on the plans as they move through city agencies.

    Yesterday, hospital officials said they expect to file plans with the Landmarks Commission by January, and that final approval is not anticipated until the middle of 2009.

    Despite such complexities, St. Vincent's has navigated similar hurdles before, in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the hospital built the Coleman and Link buildings.

    In 1979, the hospital received a large-scale community facility designation, a zoning tool that accommodates multi-block campuses such as hospitals and universities. Hospital officials said yesterday that under the new plans, that designation must be removed.

    "I think in the end, if you look at this plan and what's there now, I don't know how anyone can say this isn't an improvement," the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, Steven Spinola, who is familiar with the plans, said. "It's a design that better relates to the community than the current one, and it gives the hospital something that they can use to continue to service the neighborhood."

    © 2007 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC

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