By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Board of Standards and Appeals is expected to rule on Tuesday on New York Methodist Hospital’s zoning variance application for a planned expansion in Park Slope.
NY Methodist seeks to build a state-of-the-art ambulatory care center. Many local residents, however, oppose the proposed 500,000 square-foot expansion, saying its height — up to 152 feet — and bulk would alter the low-rise character of the neighborhood, as well as drawing increased traffic to surrounding streets. An underground lot would hold up roughly 800 — 1,000 vehicles.
If approved, the new center will take up nearly an entire block. NY Methodist plans to demolish more than a dozen townhouse-style buildings between Fifth and Sixth streets and Seventh and Eighth avenues.
The hospital contends that if it is to remain a successful institution in a changing healthcare landscape, it has to be able to deliver more inpatient services. "Nearly every major medical center in Manhattan has recently or is currently adding an outpatient facility, similar to the one we propose," the hospital said in a statement.
The proposed building, with an uppermost height of 152 feet, would house a surgery center with 12 operating rooms, an endoscopy suite, a cancer center, an after-hours urgent care center and more.
By way of comparison, NY Methodist’s ambulatory care expansion would be 6.25 times the size of the new ambulatory care center planned by Fortis Property Group at Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill.
NY Methodist’s center would be connected to the hospital, however, something that the hospital has called necessary for patient triage. The Cobble Hill center would be “stand-alone,” requiring critically ill patients to travel to a hospital for treatment.
In January, after months of back and forth, Brooklyn’s Community Board 6 approved the variances for the expansion.
Opponents have continued to push to scale down the project, which encompasses three zoning districts. Members of the group Preserve Park Slope (PPS) presented their arguments at two BSA hearings, and proposed an alternative design that envisions building over the existing parking garage. They also served the hospital with a subpoena in an effort to get them to explain what their underlying “programmatic need” is for an expansion of this size.
“I am personally hoping for the best and prepared for the worst,” said PPS spokesperson Marvin Ciporen. “Unfortunately, the BSA never pressed NY Methodist to present objective data to justify the massive size of the proposed expansion and just seemed to have accepted NYM’s claims.
“We all agree that the Hospital needs to expand and get better, but NYM’s plans go far beyond anything they have justified. I also wonder why they would spend thousands of dollars fighting a subpoena from PPS that just asked for the studies they conducted to determine the size and scope of the building instead of just providing that information. It makes me think that perhaps their own research showed there is no need for such an immense building.”
NY Methodist has tweaked the project’s design several times, reducing the size of the top; deleting the seventh floor; stepping the Fifth Street façade down; and aligning the street wall with existing buildings. The number of parking spaces were also reduced by 189.
Check back for update.