NIMBYs argue Memorial Sloan Kettering facility will strain area resources
August 22, 2013 10:06AM
By Guelda Voien
A rendering of a planned health care complex on the Upper East Side
Upper East Side residents have so many real estate-related reasons to fume these days. If it’s not the waste transfer station, then it’s the rat army unleashed by the Second Avenue subway construction — to say nothing of the overcrowded trains that one tweeter described as “Mumbai with a Bronx attitude.”
Now, add to the list a proposed 750,000-square-foot hospital facility that won approval yesterday from the City Planning Commission for a “bulk variance,” allowing the behemoth proposal to go before a City Council vote, the final step before shovels are put in the ground.
The planned buildings would stand 450 and 340 feet tall along the FDR highway, and house an outpatient cancer center run by Memorial Sloan Kettering and medical school facilities for Hunter College, a division of the City University of New York.
While a price tag has not been floated for the 23-story complex, renderings on the Sloan-Kettering website show glassy cubes with tree-filled terraces along the East River.
But some residents say the neighborhood can’t handle the hulking buildings — and attendant traffic — and that other parts of the city need new medical facilities more than theirs.
“Hospitals are great, and there are a lot of communities that need new hospitals,” Andrew Moesel, head of Residents for Reasonable Development, a group of area residents opposed to the medical projects, told The Real Deal. “We don’t think this is the best place to put new hospitals.”
However, Memorial Sloan Kettering said it was only responding to the city’s 2011 request for proposals, which mandated a health care, educational or research facility be built on the block, at the FDR between East 73rd and East 74th streets.
The buildings require a variance that will allow the two institutions to rise considerably taller than the zoning currently allows — 60 feet according to City Planning’s website. At a commission hearing yesterday, City Planning unanimously approved the variance, with one abstention by a member who recused himself, a representative for Memorial Sloan Kettering said. A call to City Planning was not immediately returned.
The duo – Sloan Kettering and CUNY – won the bid to build on the site in September 2012, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg awarded the institutions the right to develop the space, currently a garage, at a press conference.