Lenox Hill hospital rebuild plan aims high

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BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Northwell Health’s Lenox Hill Hospital could soon undergo a $2.5-billion renovation that would see it become a much taller presence in its Upper East Side neighborhood.

Late last month, Lenox Hill Hospital’s Vice President Josh Strugatz and Executive Director Dr. Jill Kalman presented the proposed renovation plan to Community Board 8.

The project would take an estimated eight years to complete. It would include building a 30-story tower, increasing the emergency room to nearly four times its current size to 56,000 square feet, completely renovating and expanding patient and operating rooms and creating a baby and mother hospital.

An illustrative rendering showing a proposed design for a rebuilt, taller Lenox Hill Hospital, left, and an accompanying new residential project, right, that would help fund the ambitious plan. (Courtesy Northwell Health)

Off-street ambulance bays and loading docks, subway station improvements and an atrium and other publicly accessible spaces are also part of the proposed scheme.

“Lenox Hill Hospital is one of the most storied institutions in Manhattan, serving communities throughout the city for over 160 years,” said Michael Dowling, president and chief executive officer of Northwell Health. “This revitalization plan is the next step in ensuring Lenox Hill Hospital’s continued success and underscores Northwell Health’s commitment to meet the needs of New Yorkers for generations to come.”

In order to help finance the ambitious project, Northwell Health plans on working with a residential developer to build a 200-unit, 41-story apartment complex on a section of Lenox Hill Hospital’s property at Park Ave. and 76th St. According to reporting by Newsday, the rest of the money would be raised through fundraising, operations or borrowing.

According to a Northwell Health spokesperson, construction on the hospital would occur in phases, so that the hospital could remain open and fully operational.

During the presentation at C.B. 8, Strugatz and Kalman emphasized that the renovations were intended to better the community. However, community members had a number of concerns.

A rendering showing the heights of the proposed new Lenox Hill Hospital tower and residential building and how they compare to nearby buildings, such as The Carlyle hotel. (Courtesy Northwell Health)

“One of our concerns is the significant proposed increase to height over the allowable limits on Park and Lexington Aves., and the impact of the surrounding Park Ave. Historic District,” said C.B. 8 Chairperson Alida Camp.

Some other concerns included a lack of affordable units in the planned apartment complex and the fact that the only subway improvements discussed involved the Downtown southwest corner entrance at the station at 77th St. and Lexington Ave.

When asked if Northwell Health would work to make some of the units in the building affordable, a hospital spokesperson reiterated that the project is in its very early stages and that options would be considered “when the time comes.”

The spokesperson added that Northwell Health “will work closely with both the city and local elected officials over the next year” as the project moves forward. A required study known as an environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., is expected to take place in the fall.

Correction: The original version of this article said the Lenox Hill Hospital rebuild plan would cost about $2.5 million. The actual figure is estimated to be $2.5 billion.