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#1

Get a good look at New York Methodist Hospital’s historic buildings before the wrecking ball swings

By Lore Croghan | October 1, 2014 - 9:23am


Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Before they’re gone, gone, gone, take a moment to appreciate the buildings New York Methodist Hospital has targeted for demolition.

The hospital, which has owned the handsome properties for decades, plans to tear them down and construct the Center for Community Health, a 486,000-square-foot building that would be 150 feet high.

Get a good look — while there’s still time — at these stately Park Slope rowhouses and small apartment buildings of limestone, brick and brownstone on 5th and 6th streets and Eighth Avenue. They’re part of the historic fabric of a storied Brooklyn neighborhood that’s “not only a New York treasure, but a national treasure of a preserved, human-scale place,” architectural historian Francis Morrone said in an affidavit for a lawsuit challenging the development. (More about that lawsuit in a minute.)

The buildings aren’t landmarked. That doesn’t make them unworthy of attention.

The expansion site was left out of a city-designated historic district because of an agreement made in 2009 by NY Methodist, the Park Slope Civic Council and Community Board 6.

BTW, there are 103 housing units in the buildings, six of them rent-controlled, according to Preserve Park Slope, a neighborhood group that is spearheading continuing opposition to the proposed development.

NY Methodist officials believe that an efficient new structure is a necessary addition that will enable the hospital, whose main address is 506 6th St., to provide better healthcare for Brooklyn.

Preserve Park Slope members believe that hospital honchos didn’t heed a prior pledge to respect the low-rise neighborhood’s “sense of place” in their planned development.

Though fiercely opinionated about so many things, Eye on Real Estate does not have a stance on whether variances that the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals approved in June for the proposed project were rightly or wrongly granted.

That’s for a judge to decide. In July, Preserve Park Slope filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court about this very subject. (This is the suit for which Morrone gave his affidavit.)

See related stories for details about the doomed buildings — and intriguing nearby properties as well.


#2

Methodist agrees to downsize, rejigger expansion in court settlement

January 8, 2015

New York Methodist Hospital has agreed to downsize a planned expansion after more than a year and a half of pressure from Park Slope activists.

A court settlement with the organization Preserve Park Slope has the hospital lop a story off of the proposed U-shaped outpatient center along Eighth Avenue and Fifth and Sixth streets, add greenery on the Eighth Avenue side of the property, and pledge to work with traffic experts to reduce the impact on surrounding streets. The settlement ends a lawsuit by the group and comes with the stipulation that the activists do nothing to oppose the process of securing new approvals for the modified plan. The neighbors who have spent the past year and a half railing against the proposed building in court, at hearings, and in a street protest, hailed the truce.

“We are pleased that we have reached this agreement, which will help to address the community’s concerns regarding the height of the new building, the impact of increased traffic especially on pedestrian safety, and the effect of the new building on the neighborhood character,” said Andrea Stewart, a member of the executive committee of Preserve Park Slope. “We will continue to work with New York Methodist Hospital to ensure that community input is incorporated into the site’s development.”

As part of the agreement, Methodist will move an entrance to the building from Eighth Avenue to Sixth Street, and employ a traffic engineer to develop a route for delivery trucks and ambulances that will minimize the use of residential streets, except in emergencies, according to a court document.

The city had okayed the plan, which required a zoning variance, in June, prompting an activist lawsuit that has tied up the process until now.

The agreement will not spare the 16 townhouses, some of them dating back to the 19th century, that the hospital owns and will tear down to make way for the new building.

[…]

The planned Center for Community Health will house a surgery center, a cancer center, an urgent-care center, and a 300-car underground garage, among other facilities. Hill said the design change would reduce the number of chemotherapy beds, and force the hospital to keep its radiation oncolog, and wound care facilities where they are.

The settlement also describes the original plan as calling for a seven-story building, but renderings appear to show an eight-story structure.