Like Dr. Pruchnicki, we lament the loss of St. Vincent’s Hospital and question what it says about our City that the hospital was almost entirely replaced by luxury condos.
But the implication of the headline placed upon the December 2016 letter, which may or may not reflect the sentiment of the author—that preservationists contributed to the downfall of the hospital—could not be further from the truth.
St. Vincent’s got all the approvals it needed from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to move ahead with its project. Before it could, however, it entered a second bankruptcy and went out of business. There was significant evidence of financial mismanagement that led to this outcome.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), from the beginning, argued that St. Vincent’s should be allowed to expand and modernize. But we questioned the financial feasibility of the gargantuan mega-hospital proposal put forward by an institution, which had just come out of bankruptcy. We also considered the fact that there seemed to be many more realistic and appropriate options that would have allowed the hospital to modernize without attaching it to an enormous and speculative real estate development deal. Unfortunately, our fears about the financial viability of the hospital’s grandiose plans turned out to be true.
While we too were proud that we helped reduce the size of the proposed condo development, limit the amount of demolition on the site, and oppose giving special zoning privileges, originally granted to the hospital, to the condo development, we would have also vastly preferred that the hospital simply remain in operation here.
Scapegoating community groups will neither bring back the hospital nor appropriately assign responsibility for the hospital’s demise.
Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation