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Methodist says expansion will mesh with hood, but neighbors are wary

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A “U”-shaped hospital building that will replace some 19th-century brownstones in the heart of Park Slope will mesh nicely with its historic surroundings, promised representatives of New York Methodist Hospital at a meeting Thursday night outlining its plan.

Hospital spokeswoman Lyn Hill, joined by architects and development consultants, told Fifth Street residents that the 135-year-old institution does plan to tear down a slew of old buildings that it owns on Fifth Street, Eighth Avenue, and Sixth Street and replace them with a giant structure that could be up to seven stories high, but the new building won’t look like your standard hospital.

“It’s not going to be a glass and steel building,” Hill said.

The proposed new outpatient facility will include a surgery center with 12 operating rooms, 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 representative from the architecture firm handling the project and a development consultant outlined to neighbors how the shell of the building would look even though a draft design has not been made yet.

Fifth Street residents, who live near three of the four hospital-owned townhouses on their block that will be knocked down on their block between Seventh and Eighth avenues had a multitude of concerns that include increased traffic, construction noise, the blocking of sunlight from the taller building, and the woe of loosing the historic buildings.

“It sounds like this plan is going to significantly change the character of the neighborhood and I’m very troubled by that,” said Fifth Street resident Stephen Sheehan, who claimed his family has lived in Park Slope since 1903.

Others complained the new building would be an eyesore.

“It’s an aggressive development in an extremely precious neighborhood – it’s uncalled for and unwarranted,” said Fifth Street resident Philippa Garson, who lives in a condo directly across the street from where the building will rise. Garson added she will mobilize people to fight the hospital’s plan.

But Hill said that the hospital between Seventh and Eighth avenues, which treats nearly 400,000 people every year, needs to increase its capacity for a number of reasons, including the critical state of Brooklyn medical centers such as money-losing Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill.

“Some of [the hospitals] are financially strained and some of them are threatened with closing and of course that is putting additional pressure on our hospital to provide more inpatient and outpatient care,” said Hill.

The new building will also have two levels of underground parking and a hospital service road connecting Fifth Street and Sixth Street.

The plan, which Hill said is still in the early stages, has only been shown to a handful of community members at a special meeting last week and neighbors who were notified of the project through a letter from Hill inviting them to Thursday’s meeting.

The new building would fall into three different residential zones — R7B, R6B, and R6, which makes up most of the site. Hill said that the hospital hopes to obtain a variance that would allow it to build “broader and shorter rather than thinner and higher.”

All of the buildings that will be knocked down are not landmarked and lie just outside the neighborhood’s enormous historic district.

Hospital staff and other tenants are currently renting out the hospital-owned rowhouses on Fifth Street. The five buildings on Eight Avenue that will be knocked down have been vacant for at least a year, according to neighbors. The eight buildings that will be torn down on Sixth Street are also occupied.

Hill said that the people who will be forced to move because of the project have already been informed and that alternative housing will be provided.

Construction is not expected to begin for at least a year. The hospital hopes to present a building design draft by September. Once the project starts it will likely take three years to complete, said Hill.

Hill said that the hospital wants to garner community input and that residents are welcome to contact her with concerns or thoughts on the project.

In order to get more community input on the plans hospital representatives will make a presentation at a July 11 public meeting with members of Community Board 6 and the Park Slope Civic Council.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.
Updated 10:12 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
I'm not sure how a "U" shaped structure, standing in the middle of Park Slope is going to "fit in". I can only hope it it built strong and doesn't roll away.
July 1, 2013, 11 am
Leon Freilich from Park Slope says:
Say goodbye to what was Park Slope,
Historic Brooklyn of history and hope.
Despite barren nabes of unlimited scope,
This hospital aims on a change to Meth Slope.
July 1, 2013, 11:28 am
John Casson from Park Slope says:
The hospital's ability to demolish several brownstones as of right offers further evidence of the need to prevent Park Slope's dwindling number of historic row houses from being destroyed. If the hospital is able to tear down brownstones and erect new buildings as of right, real estate developers can do the same with buildings that are not within the Park Slope Historic District. The handsome historic row houses in our community that are not landmarked are endangered structures that need to be protected. The only way to safeguard them and maintain the attractive appearance of Park Slope is to expand its Historic District.
July 1, 2013, 12:14 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I would find it an irony if those who oppose the expansion of a hospital, which actually does serve the public, were all for tearing down about half of Prospect Heights for an arena, which hardly serves the public. BTW, that neighborhood lost a bunch of historic architecture for an arena and a complex that may never get built. I guess to some, it's better to lose it for something private rather than something public otherwise it will be seen as a Communist takeover. Since this hospital owns those buildings, they won't even have to use eminent domain at all, they can just evict, which is what a landlord is allowed to do. At least they are working to make what's going up there work with the neighborhood unlike a certain RAT who actually used the state to bypass much of the normal process.
July 1, 2013, 2:25 pm
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Tal, I realize more and more I've previously oversimplified you. You are complex and whereas we don't always agree, indeed our disagreements are sharp, you are thoughtful. You have previously made comments on labor that were like these here. I agree with your perspective on this hospital, and agree with your ironic observation paralleling [and diverging] this hospital with the Barclay's Center. But to be fair, are you sure the people on this thread right here are the same people who supported Ratner's eminent domain seizure for the Barclay's Center?
July 1, 2013, 4:34 pm
24601 from Brooklyn says:
It will "mesh nicely with its historic surroundings" about as well as the current hospital does.

Which is, not so much.
July 1, 2013, 4:55 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Dennis, I won't accuse everyone being in a double standard on this, because I know there are probably those who oppose this also oppose that. However, there have been AY supporters that have been against other mega projects despite turning a blind eye to that. Let's not forget that there were a number of those that didn't want the Jets stadium or new stadium for the Yankees, but were okay with that arena. For the record, I have opposed mega projects in the past especially those that are using eminent when they aren't even public to begin and the others include the Columbia University expansion and Willets Point. My point was about where the outcry really is here and why do some happen to be selective when it comes to destroying neighborhoods. Let's not forget that when NY Methodist doesn't have the room at their current building, we will know where the blame will go to, and that will be those who went up against an expansion that would have helped that. On a side note, let's not forget some of the hospitals that are closing like St Vincent's that both Bloomberg and Quinn wanted to have closed. Overall, there is no moral legitimacy to support the destruction of one neighborhood while opposing another. The only reason I do have support for the expansion of the hospital is mainly because it does actually serve the public unlike an arena that doesn't at all.
July 1, 2013, 5:10 pm
Jimmy from PH says:
Looks like Tal found a friend.
July 1, 2013, 5:18 pm
bkdude65 says:
@jimmy. He already had one. TY
July 3, 2013, 7:33 am

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