Landmarks commission gives go-ahead to demolish St. Vincent's building
The O'Toole building on Seventh Avenue. Photo by masnyc via flickr
The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission voted narrowly today to allow St. Vincent's Hospital to demolish the O'Toole building on Seventh Avenue, the center of a pitched battle between the hospital and preservationists seeking to save the 45-year-old structure.
The commission voted 6-4 to approve knocking down the four-story O'Toole building, on 12th Street, and replace it with a 20-story tower.
The commission in May rejected the hospital's $1.6 billion development proposal, which would have knocked down nine buildings on both sides of Seventh Avenue, and the hospital came back with a "hardship application" to tear down the O'Toole building.It was that application that the commission approved this morning.
We are very pleased that the Landmarks Preservation Commission today approved St. Vincents hardship application, allowing us to take another step forward to building a 21st century, technologically advanced hospital for Manhattans West Side and Downtown," said a statement released today by the hospital. "St. Vincents is in a unique position as the only hospital in New York City located entirely within an historic district. Moreover, the lack of alternatives facing the hospital and the complications of constructing a new facility in a dense urban area made the case before the Commission challenging."
The chairman of Community Board 2 in Greenwich Village said today he was disappointed that the O'Toole building may be knocked down.
Theres widespread disappointment, said the chairman, Brad Hoylman. We did believe the building was unique for its modernist architecture. It certainly stood apart from other structures in the village and it is within the Greenwich Village Historic District so many our members are upset by the precedent this sets.
The hospital sought permission to demolish the structure - sometimes referred to as the "overbite building" because of the serrated overhangs on its facade - in order to consolidate all its operations in the new tower. It has sold its eight buildings on the other side of the street to a developer, which will put up residential buildings.
Of those eight, four are slated to be knocked down and four will be renovated.
The hospital had argued in its hardship application that the O'Toole building was outmoded and that it was impeding the Catholic hospital's charitable mission by hampering its ability to serve the area.
It is the only Level 1 trauma center on the West Side of Manhattan below 59th Street.
The plan now goes to the city planning commission and then the city council, where Speaker Christine Quinn, in whose district the O'Toole building lies, has already expressed support for the demolition.