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Slopers predict outpatient center will be traffic, architecture apocalypse

Residents throw stones at Methodist’s glass house

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Photo gallery

1/5
The view of the proposed building from the corner of Eighth Avenue and Fifth Street.
2/5
From Eighth Avenue looking toward Atlantic Avenue.
3/5
The view from Sixth Street looking up toward Prospect Park.
4/5
Shaving down: After community concerns, Methodist Hospital proposed to move the bulk of the building from residential Fifth Street and Eighth Avenue and onto Sixth Street, with the highest point reaching as high as 130 feet (highlighted blue).
5/5
After: Methodist Hospital changed its original plans for the massive medical facility to look like this. The blue portion is the bulk that was taken off of Fifth Street and Eighth Avenue.

Revamped plans for New York Methodist Hospital’s controversial “u”-shaped medical building in Park Slope that hospital officials say blend in better with the historic neighborhood and move the majority of its bulk off residential streets will still overwhelm the neighborhood with traffic and out-of-place architecture, claimed dozens of Slopers at a packed community board meeting Thursday night.

Hospital officials and their team of architects and development consultants unveiled the revised renderings of the structure at Community Board 6’s Landmark and Land-Use Committee meeting on Thursday night and, despite the building’s stylistic nods to the surrounding neighborhood of 19th-century townhouses, community members said the project is too huge to ever work.

“It is a Disneyland notion — there is no way to make this fit,” said Brad Zilbersher of Sixth Street, adding his concern that the facility will create a huge strain on the low-rise neighborhood’s infrastructure. “There’s no happy-end result.”

The hospital still plans to tear down a slew of old buildings that it owns on Fifth Street, Eighth Avenue, and Sixth Street to make way for the facility, but has decided to shave down the bulk of the building on residential Fifth Street and Eighth Avenue and move it to Sixth Street, across from the hospital’s main campus, in order to lessen the proposed building’s impact on surrounding homes, said planners.

The new plan for the outpatient facility includes mock-ups that show what hospital officials meant when they said the Center for Community Health complex would blend in with the surrounding neighborhood. The massive structure is designed to be built as if it were a series of separate-but-touching buildings with terra-cotta-colored, townhouse-like facades ranging from four to six stories and topped with additional glass levels rising as high as 130 feet.

Hospital executives and their architects took pains to explain that they heard the community concerns that sent them back to the drawing board and incorporated them into the new arrangement.

“We’ve tried to take your comments and shape and form the building in a way so that it is more sympathetic to the heights, the shapes, and the basic geometry of the buildings that surround our site as a way to make the building more compatible and fit better with the overall neighborho­od,” architect Peter Cavaluzzi of Perkins Eastman told the crowd.

The glass boxes protruding from the top of each terra-cotta shaded facade will “really blend in with the sky” Cavaluzzi said. The Fifth Street and Eighth Avenue sides of the building top out at 60-feet tall and the two stories that sit on the top will be set back 15 feet and add an additional 30 feet to the total height, according to Cavaluzzi.

Residents in attendance did not think much of the aesthetics lecture.

“I was not impressed with the design component,” said Fifth Street resident Bennett Kleinberg, who is president of the opposition group Preserve Park Slope and whose home would abut the planned facility.

Comments by residents inevitably returned to the issue of scale and people were particularly concerned that traffic to the new medical center will clog narrow streets, making it even harder than it already is to find a parking space.

Hospital representatives said that they took residents’ traffic concerns into consideration when refiguring the building plan by nixing the initial proposal to spill traffic from Sixth Street onto Fifth Street from a tunnel-like service road that is planned to run through the building. Instead the road has been redesigned so that all traffic will enter and exit onto Sixth Street.

Not everyone was so down on the hospital’s expansion plan at Thursday night’s meeting. Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope), who penned a letter to hospital officials stating neighbors’ concerns days before the meeting, praised the revised plans.

“I believe what we saw tonight does reflect significant changes that are responsive to many of the things people have heard,” Lander said at the meeting. “We rely on good health care institutions to run good hospitals and broadly Methodist has been such an institution and I give them a fair amount of confidence.”

Many residents left Thursday night’s meeting demanding concrete answers from hospital officials, particularly on the issue of how many new patients the facility is expected to bring in.

“There was not one number given tonight,” said Marvin Ciporen of Eighth Avenue.

Hospital spokeswoman Lyn Hill said that the new outpatient facility is essential because of the hospital’s massive increase in outpatient procedures. The independent hospital currently treats more than 350,000 outpatients and 40,000 inpatients annually, according to Hill.

The new building would fall into three different residential zoning categories — R7B, R6B, and R6.The hospital hopes to obtain a variance from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals that would allow it to build the broad facility it designed rather than a taller and thinner complex.

The building will also include:

• A surgery center with 12 operating rooms, physician offices, an endoscopy suite, a cancer center, and urgent care services (none of the services will be 24-hours).

• Three levels of underground parking.

• A green roof on the low end of the building for the sake of Fifth Street residents whose properties will abut the facility and another green roof over the Fifth Street parking garage.

The demolition of 16 existing buildings – including some 19th-century brownstones – is still on the table even after neighbors blasted the Sixth Street medical center’s preliminary building plans for a new outpatient facility for being too gigantic. All of the buildings that will be knocked down are not landmarked and lie just outside of Park Slope’s enormous historic district.

Methodist’s planned expansion comes as other Brooklyn health institutions are in dire straits and Slopers at the meeting expressed concern that, if more hospitals close, it could further crowd Methodist. The state has tried all year to close Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill and could soon shutter Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Hospital officials will come back to Community Board 6 next month after an environmental review of the project is completed. In the meantime, the hospital is still accepting comments and questions about the project via e-mail at build@nym.org.

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

New York Methodist Hospital will present the same revised plans for the facility to the Park Slope Civic Council at Congregation Beth Elohim [237 Seventh Ave. between Fourth and Fifth streets in Park Slope]. Sept. 30, 6:30 pm.

Updated 5:58 pm, October 1, 2013: Story has been updated to include a quote from Councilman Brad Lander. An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that the expansion will include a physicians parking lot at Eighth Avenue and Sixth Street. Under the current plan, a lot that is now at that corner will be subsumed by the expansion.
Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.
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Reasonable discourse

Stu from Park Slope says:
Three levels of underground parking?

I know people are worried about free on-street parking spaces, but if you design for more cars, you'll get more cars. The neighborhood is going to be overwhelmed with traffic. Reduce the size of the parking lot and encourage all employees to take public transportation. Ask that patients who are able to do so do the same.

Putting a giant parking garage for hundreds of cars in the middle of a historic, residential neighborhood is madness.
Sept. 27, 2013, 9:45 am
Marsha Rimler from Brooklyn says:
Why don't they use the Lich site or part of it..
Instead of overrunning Park slope
Sept. 27, 2013, 9:56 am
Meredith Little from Brooklyn says:
Has anyone driven down 6th Street lately? How is a narrow, one-way, residential street an appropriate entry point for a massive, major medical facility? Even the approach from 8th Avenue is continually narrowed by church/school/hospital traffic. The fact that there's been no comprehensive traffic study done prior to plans being started is ridiculous and irresponsible.
Sept. 27, 2013, 10:25 am
Rich from Park Slope says:
Honestly, the building architecturally looks pretty good. I would be worried about the traffic flow on 6th though.
Sept. 27, 2013, 10:26 am
Robert Moses from Park Slope says:
Take it from me -- people who think that a bigger garage with low prices will magically preserve their free on-street parking couldn't be more wrong. The hospital needs to seek a variance to build much LESS parking than mandated by zoning. That's the only thing that will help mitigate traffic. Build it and they will come. Don't build it and they will have to use mass transit. If the expanded portion of Methodist will house 75% existing facilities, then 3/4 of the new mandated parking can be eliminated.
Sept. 27, 2013, 10:44 am
'aha!' from Cobble Hill says:
The truth speaks! While all the bleeding hearts want to save LICH, are they thinking about the neighborhood plagued with traffic, parking problems, car alarms and horns honking every 8 hour shift change, surgical gloves and cigerettee butts thrown all over the ground, urine bottles left on the curbs from queing transporters, ambulance sirens, the list goes on? It's horrible living next to an institutional use.

While we need them, they don't have to be in our residential neighbors.

It was absolute nirvana while LICH was closed, a taste of what Cobble Hill would be like had it been completly residential as it should. But the hell returned!!!!! (Hopefully not for long though).

Put the hospitals in the industrial areas where they don't hurt/bother anyone. Look at how Luthuran in the industrial part of Sunset Park bothers no man. Look at Red Hook as they have plenty of empty space and the jobs would be welcome there.

A place to live, a place to heal, a place to die. A place for everything and everything in its place.

Let's start with a global plan for a change rather than jamming everything where ever we can stick it! (If you know what I mean!!!)
Sept. 27, 2013, 10:45 am
Duckie from Cobble Hill says:
1. The rendering labelled "The view from Sixth Street looking toward down the slope" is mislabeled. That's the view of 6th Street but from 7th Ave, looking uphill towards the park, across from the main hospital entrance.

2. The argument about not building parking is lunacy. If people are having out-patient procedures, they are going to want or need to be driven too or from the hospital and the hospital can easily design policies that get cars out of on-street parking ("We validate parking with every colonoscopy!"). The Hospital should do more to encourage their staff to not drive.

3. From a traffic standpoint, Methodist needs to address and find a better solution to the dozens of ambulances and paratransit vans that line up daily on Sixth Street and cause traffic to back up on Sixth Street and 8th Avenue.

4. It will be wonderful to get rid of that eyesore physician's parking lot on the corner of Sixth Street and 8th Avenue and even better if the new NYM building compliments St. Savoiur's Church across the street.

This building needs to have proximity to the hospital, which is why locating these services elsewhere probably won't work.

It amazes me that people forget that the hospital has been in the neighborhood since 1881 and at part of Park Slope's appeal are good services including access to doctor's offices and a hospital.
Sept. 27, 2013, 11:14 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
The money they've allocated for expanding their facilities would be much better spent upgrading their service and operations. Methodist sucks. It is the crappiest hospital I've ever been in, and that includes hospitals in China. Unless I had a severed limb and were bleeding out, I would far rather hop in a taxi to NYU or Columbia Presbyterian than endure their "care."
Sept. 27, 2013, 11:24 am
Juan from Gowanus says:
Crazy to expand this hospital by tearing down 19th century townhouses in a residential neighborhood when all kinds of hospitals nearby are being closed.
Sept. 27, 2013, 12:26 pm
petunia from park slope says:
Some of the most vehement opposition to the plan, so far, is coming from long-time residents who are all too fully aware of the hospital's history and are still upset at the way past expansions were foisted on the community (as just one example, they knocked down the row of buildings where Rite Aid/Barnes & Noble is now, and then let the site sit abandoned for many many years).
And of all the reasons people cite for wanting to live in the Slope, don't think I've ever heard living next to Methodist as one of them.
That said, I'm not necessarily against an expansion. The concern is the hospital's apparent lack of awareness re- potential impact on the surrounding neighborhood and its lack of respect for the low-rise, historic beauty of its buildings, which is something people definitely cite as a reason for moving here. Also factor how oblivious Methodist seems to be re- the traffic congestion already caused by its inadequate approach to traffic and parking policy. The underused paid parking lots indirectly encourage visitors and staff to circle around for elusive on-street parking. Remember that one third of all traffic on Slope streets is actually looking for parking. This has an effect on safety and air quality that goes beyond just one's own parking frustration. Methodist, with all the money they're devoting to this, needs to come up with an innovative solution as the existing problem is bad enough.
Sept. 27, 2013, 12:29 pm
bee from park slope says:
I was at the meeting and the residents of the Slope were all against the expansion. The representative from Methodist expects us to believe that they are going to have 300,000 additional square feet to use with minimal impact on the neighborhood.

They did not present a traffic study, they did not
give us any number of the additional daily population that will come into the Slope. Remember the are saying that this is an outpatient
facility, which means multiple turns on each "bed" per day, with resultant drop off and pickups.

Please remember that Park Slope is physically boxed in by the Park, Flatbush Avenue, the Gowanus Canal and the Prospect Expressway.
The building of Barclays where the City gave away
the park of 5th Avenue where the Arena sits further
complicates the traffic picture and the hospital
developers reacted negatively to a suggestion that the traffic study be expanded past the minimum that the city requires.

to "aha" from Cobble Hill, we already have an extremely busy ER with the subsequent traffic, noise, etc that Cobble Hill has, this proposal does not alleviate any of the existing problems. In fact when a community member brought up the fact that the hospital can't manage the ambulances, ambulettes, etc that line up, idle, honk etc. the answer from the hospital representative that it was not their job. Not a good portent for the future.

This is not a case of NIMBY, we have this crappy hospital already. They always talk about they are part of Cornell, but I was there two years ago for four days (they couldn't find a doctor that had the authority to sign my discharge papers) and the residents were all from Ross University plus the internist they referred me to upon investigation was under review by her specialty board to loose her certification.
Sept. 27, 2013, 2:28 pm
Margaret from Park Slope says:
In 18 years of living in Park Slope, I have never heard one good thing about this hospital, and that is not an exaggeration. I wish to God they would focus on improving their existing facilities before spreading their mediocrity across the street. My family's own experiences have borne out the hospital's reputation (from an orderly not being able to find the Ct scan room for a HALF HOUR) to the ER not setting my son's broken arm (it had to be done at NYU days later), to my father having a heart attack and having to *beg* to have a doctor see him (and not just the nurse who was trying to treat him with a glass of water). Truly, the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, and neither hand is of the helping kind.

As for the meeting last night, Lyn Hill of the hospital rather disingenuously announced that there won't really be a huge increase in the number of patients served. "It won't be as bad as you think," she assured us. So is that why they're building a block-long monolith with hundreds of parking spaces? For a couple more patients here and there? Doubtful. Lyn Hill and Brad Lander repeatedly referred to the need to build a "21st century institution," but they failed to acknowledge that our 19th century roads are not ever going to get any wider. And guess what? It's not just the residents who will sacrifice -- the staff and patients and visitors are going to hate coming here.

How wonderful would it be if they used the money that they are paying lobbyists, consultants, architects, and pr people to improve the medical care of the existing hospital?
Sept. 27, 2013, 6:04 pm
jay from nyc says:
I have to agree with others on here about how lousy this hospital is. I have twice been diagnosed with life threatening conditions at this place and both times they were wrong and I suspect that they knew there was no basis for either diagnosis except to run up the bill.
The reason I believe this is because in both instances I sought a second opinion from other doctors and each time they both found zero, ZERO basis for the crazy wrong diagnosis made at Methodist.. I have had other doctors who told me that thought that they were just trying to run up insurance bills.
This is the worst hospital I have ever been in, and I have been in third world hospitals. If anything happens to me I go all the way to NYU now. If I was in front of Methodist and got shot, I will still go to NYU instead.
Sept. 27, 2013, 7:02 pm
mmmm-hmm from Bklyn says:
aha! says: "Put the hospitals in the industrial areas where they don't hurt/bother anyone. Look at how Luthuran in the industrial part of Sunset Park bothers no man'

Lutheran is another lousy hospital.
Sept. 27, 2013, 7:26 pm
Louise Louise from Park Slope says:
Aha is ridiculous; at one time in history was 'Cobble Hill' completely residential? Quit the lies already. You also live next to a highway AND Atlantic Avenue, still.
Sept. 28, 2013, 9:10 pm
Figgy from Park Slope says:
All arguments and comments are excellent. But on a greater scale, let's please give some thought to what the hospital brings to us as individuals - more chemicals to introduce to our organic bodies. Long story short, should anyone care to address or just wonder whether the hospital can bring in alternative medicine practitioners as well? U.S. numbers are highest on our (premature) death rate due to disease and meds...
Sept. 30, 2013, 10:52 am
Ugly from Park Slope says:
Regardless of what you say about the care provided NYMH, it's hard to argue that this building is just plain, old, ugly. Completely unimaginative. Add to that it's size and the outcome is a simple urban planning nightmare that belongs in the canyons of mid-town Manhattan, not leafy Park Slope.

People move to Park Slope and build their lives here for lots of reasons. NYMH is probably not one of them.
Sept. 30, 2013, 5:13 pm
Brooklyn Bob from Downtown says:
Listen to the elitist Park Slopers whine. Not in my backyard. Not in my neighborhood. You look down your noses at Methodist but you'll be crying if it doesn't remain healthy and open. You people make me sick.
Sept. 30, 2013, 9:18 pm
Laura from Park Slope says:
If you feel sick, Brooklyn Bob, stay far away from Methodist. It might make you sicker. Let's not pretend this is a decent hospital. I would best describe my experiences there over the years as bewildering.

I wonder if Brad Lander would ever voluntarily use Methodist as his go-to health care facility?
Oct. 1, 2013, 10 am
Steve from Park Slope says:
Read "A tale of two hospitals" by Celia Weintrop in the Oct 4-10 issue of The Brooklyn Paper. She gives a fair assessment of the Methodist Hospital proposed expansion. I was at the Sept 30 meeting at Beth Eloheim and from most comments you would think that the topic was "noise, traffic, and parking garages" and not about the potential improvements a newer larger hospital would bring to our neighborhood. Methodist Hospital has been in our neighborhood since there was a Park Slope so why is it news that as their needs are greater they want to expand! Every homeowner on every block in the Slope has been inconvenienced by homeowners' doing extensive renovations lately, so what's the beef about the hospital doing the same! And guess what: that may help all of us!
Oct. 4, 2013, 2:48 pm
Cisco from Park Slope says:
Steve
I agree with you completely- very selfish people in Park Slope are worried only about parking. Sell your car and get a bike!!
Oct. 4, 2013, 5:13 pm
Tom F from Prospect Heights says:
It's not just about selfish car owners and parking, additional car traffic effects all of us who take buses, cross the street, or even breathe. The best thing for our Brooklyn neighborhoods would be to revitalize Long Island College Hospital and Interfaith so that folks from Bed Sty, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Red Hook don't have to schlep all the way into Park Slope for care. It doesn't make sense for Methodist to expand while other hospitals contract. Political leadership is needed to coordinate Brooklyn's big picture of health care across the borough, and not just in Park Slope.
Oct. 7, 2013, 2:43 pm
evie from bklyn says:
"aha from cobble hill" you sound like an ignoramus when you say LICH & Methodist shouldn't have been built in these residential neighborhoods. Do you really not know that LICH was built where it still stands in 1856 & Methodist in 1881 -long before the neighborhoods that grew up around them ever existed. They weren't "jammed" into residential areas - they were surrounded by farmland. If you have such issues with living near a hospital, you shouldn't have moved next to one that's been standing there for over 150 years. Now, do you have anything worth contributing to the discussion about the impact of Methodist expansion & or any possible solutions for that community?
Oct. 9, 2013, 2:55 pm

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