It don’t fit: Residents blast Methodist building plan

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Expansion: New York Methodist Hospital hopes to obtain a variance from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals so that it can build the proposed outpatient facility outlined on the right. The plan calls for the demolition of 16 existing buildings along Eighth Avenue, Sixth Street, and Fifth Street to make way for the new structure.
Pushing traffic: The hospital plans to install a tunnel-like service road running through the “u”-shaped building from Sixth Street onto Fifth Street that cars will drive on to drop off or pick up patients.
Stacked: The massive new building could be as high as eight stories in some sections. There will be three levels of underground parking.
Taking into account Park Slope: Hospital representatives, joined by architects and development consultants, promised residents that the new facility will blend in with the existing landscape of the neighborhood as much as it can.

A massive “u”-shaped medical building that New York Methodist Hospital wants to construct in Park Slope will be a blot on the face of the historic neighborhood, claimed dozens of fretful Slopers at a meeting announcing the hospital’s plan last night.

Residents packed into a meeting at the Sixth Street medical center where hospital officials, joined by architects and development consultants, filled the public in on specifics of the plan, which calls for the demolition of 16 buildings — including some 19th-century brownstones —in the heart of the Park Slope.

The hospital plans to tear down a slew of old buildings that it owns on Fifth Street, Eighth Avenue, and Sixth Street and replace them with a “much-needed” outpatient facility that is proposed to be up to eight stories high on a portion of Sixth Street.

But neighbors said that the giant structure will dramatically change the makeup of the area by bringing traffic, idling cars and trucks, and construction noise, with some suggesting that the hospital scrap its plans.

“People do not move to Park Slope for Methodist Hospital – they move here for the look and feel of the brownstones,” said longtime Fifth Street resident David Goodman, who lives in a condo directly across the street from where the planned building is slated to rise.

But hospital representatives promised residents that the new facility, which has not been designed yet, will not look like your standard hospital with a lot of steel and glass, but will blend in with the neighborhood as much as it can.

“It’s not going to be a jarring modernist structure that stands out and kind of grabs attention. It will be something that really feels harmonious with the existing context and fabric,” said architect Peter Cavaluzzi of Perkins Eastman. “It’s going to be a modern building. It’s going to have modern facilities within it, but we want to learn from the architectural character that currently exists in the neighborho­od.”

All of the buildings that will be knocked down are not landmarked and lie just outside of Park Slope’s enormous historic district, which boasts 2,575 protected edifices.

Cavaluzzi argued that Park Slope isn’t only made up of the notable row houses and brownstones, and that other big buildings are a part of its fabric, a concept that stirred some residents who don’t buy that the new building will blend in.

“A lot of us who live in Park Slope feel there is a great deal of homogeneity in terms of scale and building material than you might have suggested in your presentati­on,” said Peter Bray of the Park Slope Civic Council, which held the joint meeting with Community Board 6’s Landmarks and Land Use committee.

Some neighbors suggested that the hospital maintain the old structures by building the new facility inside them or preserving their facades, but consultants said that the idea is not a practical one since a medical center requires a wide working space.

The new building would fall into three different residential zones – R7B, R6B, and R6, which makes up most of the site. This could accommodate a 300,000-square-foot building under current zoning. The hospital hopes to obtain a variance from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals that would allow it to build a broad facility instead of a taller and thinner complex.

But some residents said they rather that the hospital build as-of-right, which calls for the bulk of the building to reside on Sixth Street, shaving a few stories off of the portion of the facility on residential Eighth Avenue and Fifth Street and building higher on a hospital-owned parking garage on Fifth Street closer to Seventh Avenue.

A development consultant from Washington Square Partners said that building on the parking garage would be difficult because of a seismic building code.

Hospital spokeswoman Lyn Hill said that the new outpatient facility is essential because of the growing number of patients at the medical center between Seventh and Eighth avenues. The hospital treats more than 400,000 patients a year.

“A new building will allow us to re-purpose and reconfigure space for the growing number of inpatients in our existing building,” said Hill.

But some residents aren’t ready to give up their historic architecture for a bigger hospital facility.

“I understand their need to expand, but I wish it didn’t have to be at the expense of the community,” said Eighth Avenue resident Ibby Sollors, who called the demolition of the buildings “devastating.”

The planned “Center for Community Health” building will include:

• A surgery center with 12 operating rooms, physician offices, an endoscopy suite with six special rooms, a cancer center, that will offer radiation oncology, chemotherapy and urgent care services, and additional rooms for meeting space.

• A tunnel-like service road running through the building from Sixth Street onto Fifth Street.

• Three levels of underground parking.

• A green roof over a lower portion of the structure intended to benefit Fifth Street residents whose properties will abut the facility. Another green roof will be installed over the Fifth Street parking garage.

• A hospital-owned physician’s parking lot at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Sixth Street will be built on to accommodate the massive structure.

The facility will be constructed as if it were made of separate buildings with some portions ranging in different heights, said officials. The lowest level of the structure will be on the Fifth Street side, which is the back of the building.

Residents’ other concerns included the blockage of sunlight from the taller building, environmental hazards, parking problems, the loose of the loss of historic buildings, and the relative ambiguity of the proposal — citing previous meetings about the project held with little or no advance notice.

Hospital officials expect to present a building design by September. Hill said that the hospital wants to garner community input about the project by hosting public meetings, and is accepting comments and questions about the project via e-mail at

Construction is expected to begin in late 2014 or early 2015, said hospital officials. Once construction starts it will likely take three years to complete.

Some of the hospital-owned buildings have tenants, but Hill said those residents have already been notified that they will need to move to nearby housing will cost equal to, or less than, what they are paying now.

Methodist’s proposed expansion comes at a time of crisis for Brooklyn hospitals including the proposed closure of the money-losing Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at

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Reasonable discourse

elvis from Nawcostella says:
"Some neighbors suggested that the hospital maintain the old structures by building the new facility inside them or preserving their facades"

Really? ——ing amazing.
July 12, 2013, 9:24 am
BenF from SB says:
I hope that the irony of the demolition of LICH and the expansion of Methodist Hospital is apparent to all. LICH has 16 modern operating suites, a new parking facility and a recently completed $175 million renovation to convert the facility for out patient use. LIC also has roughly 350,000 patient visitors per year who will be forced to travel to already congested Park Slope for the services that they are now receiving in Cobble Hill. Seems like a colossal planning failure on the part of state health officials and an even bigger waste of precious health care dollars.
July 12, 2013, 10:13 am
ty from pps says:
BenF -- the closure of LICH is completely absurd, no argument there. However, it's hardly reasonable to think that the LICH patients will all become Methodist patients.
July 12, 2013, 11 am
UpSlope from Park Slope says:
"The facility will be constructed as if it were made of separate buildings with some portions ranging in different heights"

That's not entirely accurate. The building they propose would be of uniform height all the way around. They showed an additional rendering to demonstrate what they could build as-of-right (without variances). That rendering showed a variety of roof lines. While the community might prefer that option, that is not their proposal.
July 12, 2013, 11:07 am
Susan from Cobble Hill says:
It is ridiculous that they are going to build a super-sized facility in one community while they take down LICH in the neighboring community. Ty, realize that there are thousands of NEW residents planned for downtown that would be in the LICH catchment area so, while some current LICH patients will be sent to Brooklyn Hospital, the majority of the NEW residents that should go to LICH because LICH is closer to those huge new housing complexes at Fulton/MetroTech/Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Yards than Methodist, patients WILL be directed to Methodist if LICH closes. No one is looking at the whole picture of current and soon to be residents. In that context the whole thing is ridiculous - SAVE LICH and most of Methodist's problems are over. And if Methodist still feels they need more space, then they should buy LICH and work with the surrounding buildings that would not require taking out brownstones (i.e., south side of Amity St betw Hicks and Henry) buildng up without hardly anyone bothered!
July 12, 2013, 12:09 pm
Susan from Cobble Hill says:
And, by the by, buying LICH would be immediate.

For the record, ALL the Red Hook dwellers who use LICH WILL go to Methodist - so the majority of current LICH users will, in fact, be going to Methodist. Residents of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and DUMBO will be going to Brooklyn Hosp.
July 12, 2013, 12:13 pm
ty from pps says:
Susan (and everyone) --

The expansion of Methodist has no connection to the closure of LICH. If LICH stayed open, I'm sure Methodist would still want to expand. If LICH closes, Methodist will expand. If NYU closes Presbyterian, Methodist will expand. If NYU expands, Methodist will expand.

Now -- Does Brooklyn *need* LICH? Is it's closure a travesty? Absolutely.
July 12, 2013, 12:41 pm
ty from pps says:
By the way, Susan... Are folks in DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights scared of bridges? They should be able to go to LICH, but why would they go 3 miles east to Methodist when they can go 2 miles north?
July 12, 2013, 12:45 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First of all, I find it wrong to close down LICH in the claim that there is no money despite the fact that your great friend Bloomberg doesn't mind using the money that would keep it open for his rich buddies and pet projects. If that does close, the patients will need to be relocated somewhere. The expansion of Methodist Hospital would help those relocated patients and when more are needed. Keep in mind that when St Vincent over in Greenwich Village closed to replace it with condos thanks to Bloomberg, the patients there had to be relocated as well. On a side note, I will find it an irony if anyone here is against a hospital expansion that would help the community in destroying a neighborhood when they had little to no opposition for another neighborhood that was destroyed for an arena that hardly serves a community at all, but that was probably because it wasn't their neighborhood to begin with.
July 12, 2013, 3:54 pm
JAY from NYC says:
If LICH closes Methodist will have more patients, that much is fact, how many more is open to some debate. That really is not the only issue here though, the issue is that Methodist wants to expand, and they don't seem to want to take any one else's property to do so.
If you already live near the place, then you moved there knowing that they have sirens going all day and all night every day and you can't claim that noise and traffic are some big shock and to try and argue that expanding is going to somehow make things all that different in this regard. The parking over there already stinks so that is not gong to be new either. To me this is more about some people just don't like change, any kind of change.
July 12, 2013, 7:02 pm
Peter from Park Slope says:
This is absurd. Closing LICH, and expanding Methodist?
Seventh Avenue is already ovecongested
-both car and pedestrian traffic- in the Methodist area. It's not a large street- and it's not a large sidewalk.The stairs and tunnel at the Seventh Avenue Subway station are getting more and more crowded,and that's really unpleasant. Is that what we live in Park Slope for? No. How many of these 'Planning Savants' actually live here? I'll bet you not
I know it's sexy to build new buildings,but life in a community is about more than new big buildings. The vast already invested LICH buildings should work fine for your needs.
July 12, 2013, 7:49 pm
win win solution from sunset park says:
It's unbelievable that with all the publicity going on right now with SUNY's attack on LICH, Methodist chooses this time to announce controversial plans to expand itself. You have a whole hospital in Brooklyn Heights that has empty space even when it is full to capacity of patients. Lease or buy space at some of that space for your out-patient facilities & leave the brownstones alone. win-win solution for both communities.
July 12, 2013, 8:33 pm
ty from pps says:
You're right, Peter. The sidewalks on 7th Avenue should have been widened long ago -- regardless of the hospital expansion.
July 12, 2013, 8:43 pm
win win solution from sunset park says:
Agreed. The patients over there don't want to go to Brooklyn Hospital. They'll either go to Methodist or Manhattan. But Methodist should expand to the nice newly renovated, easy to get to, parking-available, facility at LICH. Methodist wants to build OUT-PATIENT facilities not emergency care, so where the patient lives doesn't really matter. The fact that LICH has parking, is right off the highway, is in front of a bus stop, is just blocks from the subway & is in a perfect area that is easy to get to matters more. If Methodist were to move their services into space at LICH, the patients using them would still be considered Methodists patients & pay their bill to Methodist - not LICH. Methodist gets the business but the community doesn't get the congestion or the destruction of historic homes. Sounds like a perfect solution.
July 12, 2013, 8:53 pm
LC from Park Slope says:
Seems to me that one solution for both communities is to put up the Out Patient Facility Methodist thinks it needs in nearby Cobble Hill as I believe it would not matter to which location patients travel for most Ambulatory patients. Then keep an ER at LICH (which is much needed in that area) and a reduced bed inpatient facility at LICH (if the full occupancy is not reasonable). This would meet the needs of both communities and Brooklyn in general (I do not think any Manhattan people are coming to Brooklyn for Health Care) without the controversial construction plans in Park Slop and without closing a needed ER and inpatient in Cobble Hill.
July 12, 2013, 10:30 pm
zanadu from here says:
These hospitals all need to put competition aside for a while & get together to figure this out for the sake of Brooklyn residents. It's ludicrous to be demolishing lovely architectural buildings in Park Slope for more hospital space while emptying out a perfectly good entire hospital in Cobble Hill. LICH should be downsized to about 250-275 beds (100 less than it is now), with full services & full ER maintained. And rent out the remaining space to other facilities like Methodist that need to expand some of their own services. We need to get the local elected people on this. It seems like there is a solution to be found in this with some creative thinking.
July 12, 2013, 11:38 pm
genya from park slope says:
I find it offensive to see Methodist doing this now while our neighbors are fighting to save the life of their hospital at LICH. It makes Methodist appear to be chomping at the bit, ready to profit off the deliberate killing of LICH. If Methodist cared about the people of Brooklyn, it would find a way to expand to some of the empty space at the LICH facilities.
July 13, 2013, 12:24 am
Pickle from East Flatbush says:
It *DOESN'T* fit!

Learn the language you moron.
July 13, 2013, 6:31 am
Susan from Cobble Hill says:
Genya, Zanadu, LC, et al - Thank you for your creativity. LICH is the answer for many and maybe all of Methodist's issues (and also the problems all Brooklynites have because the hospitals that would have to take on current LICH patients are already at capacity) - so how do we get our electeds to act? Getting arrested like DeBlasio did is worthless. The news didn't even pick up on the issue about LICH - they just mocked the "show"of getting arrested and in many cases didn't even mention LICH! We need real action by our politicians not PR stunts. Where was Bill a year ago when this was going down? He only recently decided to merchandise the issue for his campaign. We are in this situation because our politicians can not seem to focus on resident needs. So, I ask all of you: how do we change the direction of these closings and needless expansions?
July 13, 2013, 9:34 am
ty from pps says:
"Just because Methodist owns the buildings & can do whatever they want with them does not mean they should be allowed to do so."

Umm.... what?!
July 13, 2013, 2:31 pm
Pat R. from Gowanus says:
Let's see... 16 of Brooklyn's most modern operating suites are to be demolished so developers can build luxury condos in one neighborhood and then a hospital is demolishing brownstones in another community just a few miles away so that they can build 12 new operating suites... guess that explains why health costs are so high in NY. It is hard not to wonder if anyone in charge in this state?
July 13, 2013, 4 pm
Honey from Love Dove says:
If it doesn't fit, you must acquit!
July 14, 2013, 10:23 am
Tanner from Park Slope says:
I think all hospitals & schools should be torn down & turned into luxury condos, coffee shops & nightclubs.
July 14, 2013, 2:05 pm
ludicrous from windsor says:
Hello Methodist??? This is worth repeating: 16 of Brooklyn's most modern hospital operating suites are to be demolished so developers can build luxury condos in one neighborhood, and then a hospital is demolishing brownstones in another community just a few miles away so that they can build 12 new operating suites... guess that explains why health costs are so high in NY. It is hard not to wonder if anyone is in charge in this state. Are you paying attention Governor Cuomo?
July 14, 2013, 2:48 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I think Tanner works for Bloomberg by saying that.
July 14, 2013, 4:05 pm
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July 14, 2013, 11:41 pm
Ethan Pettit from Park Slope says:
Hard to believe that "saving" LICH would "alleviate" the need for an expansion at Methodist. I don't buy that. Methodist probably really does need to expand, no matter what happens at other hospitals. However, the idea of preserving the brownstone facades and building behind them seems eminently doable. This has been done on some large buildings in Manhattan with great results. A preserved brownstone "wall" in front of the Methodist expansion would maintain the integrity of the street, and it would also provide an interesting archeology of brownstone Brooklyn, visible from inside the hospital. Skeletons in bowler hats sort of thing. Case closed, finally.
July 20, 2013, 12:31 pm

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