Dueling Plans Emerge for St. Vincent’s
Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
But in the past month, two dueling plans have emerged to redevelop the abandoned hospital.
Under the first plan, announced on March 9, the Rudin Management Company, one of the largest real estate holders in New York City, would purchase most of the campus' three-acre site. But then two weeks later, New York City Councilman Alan Gerson put forward an alternative plan to revitalize St. Vincent's into a full service hospital. Gerson now hopes to block the Rudin plan.
The Rudin Managment Company would transform the O'Toole building on the corner of 13th Street and Seventh Avenue into an emergency care center that would be slated to open in 2013. It would be run by North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, a large New York area medical service provider.
The Rudin plan is highly controversial. First and foremost, the neighborhood would still lack access to a full-service hospital. Much of the rest of the medical complex would be torn down and converted into luxury apartments. In addition, the bidding process for the proposed deal was conducted behind closed doors - only the latest in a series of transparency problems plaguing St. Vincents' since its closing.
In May 2010, the United States Bankruptcy Court denied The Coalition for a New Village Hospital's legal team a copy of the St. Vincent's closure plan. The CNVH filed a Freedom of Information request for the closure plan which was denied in September. The group also filed a subsequent FOIL request for the bidding process - a request that was also denied. They appealed and the next hearing was scheduled for April 1 at the Southern Manhattan district court on Pearl Street.
In addition, the CNVH has taken the position that the sale of St. Vincents' to the Rudin group is illegal under the IRS code regarding non-profits.
According to section 501c3 of the IRS code, a non-profit like St. Vincents' cannot be transferred to private entities such as the Rudin development corporation. Even if St. Vincent's was transferred from one non-profit entity to another, the new non-profit would be required to continue the charitable mission of the original, which, in the case of St. Vincent's, is a hospital.
Yetta Kurland, a West Village attorney and community activist who ran an unsuccessful bid for city council against Christine Quinn last fall and is heavily involved with the CNVH expressed optimism over the new plan being put forward. "It means that there are other opportunities besides the Rudin plan," Kurland said. Frankly I think it means that we should open the bidding process and the bankruptcy court should encourage more bidders to come forward."
The Rudins are one of the largest real-estate holders in New York City, amassing a vast real estate empire since 1902. They have been planning the development for five years, and in the spring of 2008 attempted a similar and perhaps more ambitious deal under which the O'Toole building was to be demolished and the hospital expanded.
This first plan was highly controversial, because Greenwich Village is a historic district. Although the historical preservation commission eventually approved the deal because of an exemption for financial hardship, it fell through after the debt drowned hospital shut its doors in April owing to a $700 million budget gap. Since then, the monolithic building has uneasily stood over the neighborhood, no longer a safe haven for the sick and injured, its fate undetermined.
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