A Landmark Hospital [Updated: There’s Still a Small Emergency]
Matt Chaban March 10, 2011, 10:01 a.m.
St. Vincent’s, North Shore-LIJ and Rudin Management just announced a deal to bring emergency care back to Greenwich Village. Their plan calls for restoring–as opposed to demolishing–the closed hospital’s landmark O’Toole Building. Here are two renderings of the re-used “overbite building,” designed by Albert C. Ledner and built in 1966 as the headquarters of the National Maritime Union.
It had seemed unlikely anyone but St. Vincent’s would be able to tear down the building to build a new hospital, but that obviously overlooked the clear, and preferable (at least from a preservation perspective), choice–simply reuse the old building.
During a conference call, the three partners clarified their plan. The most striking revelation is that this new facility is the first of its kind in the city, though it does not achieve the standard of a level-1 trauma center, which St. Vincent’s and many of the other major hospitals in the city are. Thus the most severe emergencies would still have to make the trek crosstown to other hospitals.
When asked by a reporter whether a heart attack or a severe accident could be addressed at the facility, Dr. Andrew Sama, head of emergency services at North Shore-LIJ, hedged. “This will be as sophisticated an EMS agency as there is in New York City, as sophisticated in the world, and a patient like that is encountered in the neighborhood, they would be brought to the closest appropriate facility,” he said. “The street paramedics know what to do, and if it is a level-1 trauma case, that is where the patient would go.”
And yet it is better than no hospital.
Both North Shore-LIJ and the Rudins plan to begin their separate public approval processes in the spring. The hospital needs approvals from the state and federal departments of health and the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission while the Rudins will begin the city’s land-use review process. The hospital has a projected opening of fall 2013, and Bill Rudin said his project would be completed about a year later or by early 2015. He remained confident that these approvals would not delay the projects, either, as arguably happened when St. Vincent’s was forced through a two-year approval process at the Landmarks Preservation Commission because it was initially denied the right to demolish the hospital.
“Are there risks? There are always risks,” Rudin said. “But when you add up everything, bringing back jobs, bringing back health care, open space, I think we’re solving all those issues.”
The Rudins will now be paying St. Vincent’s only $260 million, down from an original $310 million, for its east side campus, but combined with the $110 million paid by North Shore-LIJ, that is a total of $370 million for the hospital’s creditors. The Rudins plan to proceed with a preservation commission-approved plan to demolish four of St. Vincent’s old buildings, rehabilitate four others and combine them into a 300-unit luxury housing complex.
Mark Toney, St. Vincent’s chief restructuring officer, said that the hospital and its creditors had considered a deal with another developer that had partnered with a local health care provider, but the Rudin deal proved to be the better option, not only for the community but also for the hospital’s creditors. Theoretically, St. Vincent’s could have sold its prime real estate on the open market for more than the Rudin’s are paying, but it would have taken longer, and without the inclusion of some health care facilities, it would have been politically unfeasible. Toney noted that an existing contract with the Rudins also offered the fewest risks and greatest level of expediency. “We needed to have a succinct transaction,” Toney said.
“This deal provides the value, the timing, and the certainty we need,” he added.