NYC Planning Commission approves Rudin St. Vincent’s Condo Plan
It happened in a flash. In a move that took only minutes according to those present, the politically appointed members of the New York City Planning Commission brushed aside the needs and concerns of Greenwich Village residents and the entire Lower West Side on Monday, January 23, and voted unanimously to approve Rudin Management’s application to convert our cherished, now closed and abandoned St. Vincent’s Hospital into 450 luxury condos.
“They all said yes,” John Thompson, who was present, wrote to WestView afterward. “Most talked about how Rudin was integrating the St. Vincent’s buildings back in to the community. This is a joke. Making luxury condos with the cheapest starting at $1.5 million is not integrating. It is inviting outside millionaires in who may not live here full time and outside of paying taxes may not contribute to the local economy.”
Many members of the commission also “gave thanks about the AIDS memorial park,” Thompson wrote. “But this is just a gimmick. These people know that to get what they want (money and power) they need to throw a crumb to the populace which acts as a diversion.”
Gerrie Nussdorf wouldn’t call the fake, two-bed, so-called urgent care center that Rudin has tossed to the community a “crumb,” exactly. She calls it a band-aid. “There’s a change in health care where these freestanding clinics are somehow taken as being equal to hospitals,” she told Elise Knutsen of The New York Observer. But they’re not. They’re good for non-serious problems, Nussdorf said. “But for serious things people need to be transported to a hospital.”
Barbara Ruether, a 35-year veteran of St. Vincent’s Department of Community Medicine, and Jayne Hertko, whose life was saved at St. Vincent’s and who has been involved in the fight to restore a hospital to the Lower West Side for almost two years, expressed astonishment at how artfully Rudin has misrepresented his contributions to a school at the Foundling Hospital building as another community give-back, when in fact that contribution has been basically nil.
As for Planning Commission Director Amanda Burden’s comments during the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it meeting about how reassured she is by Rudin Management’s commitment to working with the community—please. “I’m telling you the commission did not tell the truth today,” opponent Timothy Lunceford, told The Observer. “Bill Rudin has not told the truth any time he’s presented to the board about working with the community.”
End result: “This community is now left without a hospital and trauma center,” Barbara Ruether wrote to WestView. “Ambulance time to take patients in traffic to the well-bedded East Side of Manhattan determines life and death and disability. Imagine what that means if you are the heart patient, the stroke victim, the asthmatic child in respiratory arrest or, God forbid, a patient in sepsis, where minutes count….
“No, Rudin lies, and our corrupt officials have aided and abetted him and no one is accountable because the dead can’t speak.”
Josh Robin of New York 1, whose coverage of local issues WestView much admires, was present at the Planning Commission meeting to document this pivotal vote, Rudin’s pleasure in the outcome and the dismay of community activists and residents who have fought and are still fighting to stop the Rudin plan. Here, drawn from New York 1’s January 23 video and print coverage, WestView presents snapshots of some of the key people who were present and a taste of what they had to say:
Bill Rudin, CEO, Rudin Management Company, Inc.: “Obviously we’re very happy and very pleased, and it reaffirms the plan that we put forward several months ago that addressed a lot of the issues that were raised by the community.”
Amanda Burden, Chair, New York City Planning Commission:
“Given the past efforts of the applicant on this proposal, I am confident that they will continue to work with the community in the future.”
Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation:
“The site was rezoned over 30 years ago to allow the hospital buildings to be built at a larger-than-usual size… Rudin today was basically saying ‘Give us those same special privileges so that we can build extra large luxury condo buildings.’” All images from NY1 newscast of January 23, 2012.
Jayne Hertko, activist, whose life was saved at St. Vincent’s:
“I had no blood pressure, all of my organs were failing, and basically within moments I was having one spinal tap after another, I was surrounded by specialists. This is what it means to be a trauma center.”
Christine Quinn, New York City Council Speaker:
No statement. NY1 notes: “Records indicate four members of the Rudin family have given her the maximum amount for her yet undeclared bid for Mayor.”
– By G. K. Wallace