Next Stop: Board of Standards and Appeals
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
After months of design changes and stipulations, on Wednesday night Brooklyn’s Community Board 6 gave its grudging blessing to zoning variances that would allow New York Methodist to build an oversized ambulatory care facility in Park Slope. The motion passed 27 to 4.
The vote came after CB 6’s Landmarks/Land Use Committee gave its conditional approval on Monday.
NY Methodist plans to demolish more than a dozen townhouse-style buildings that it owns in the block between Fifth and Sixth streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenue to build the new Center for Community Health, which will take up nearly the entire block.
“New York Methodist Hospital is gratified by Community Board 6's vote to recommend approval of the variances needed to build our Center for Community Health,” said NY Methodist spokesperson Lyn S. Hill. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Community Board as we move forward with the project.”
If CB6 had not approved the project, NY Methodist could build, as-of-right, a taller structure that would require a longer construction period and would bring more traffic to Fifth Street.
The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) must now approve the proposal. A BSA hearing is scheduled for February 11.
NY Methodist had tweaked the project’s design several times since this past summer. Ms. Hill described the most recent changes, which encompass two different zones. (The entire project encompasses three zoning districts.) In the R7B zone, Hill said that NY Methodist "reduced the size of the top; deleted the seventh floor; stepped the Fifth Street façade down, adjacent to neighboring homes; and aligned the street wall with existing buildings."
In the R6B zone, the hospital increased the setback above the fourth floor by 25 feet, Hill said. In addition, the new plans "reduced total garage parking spaces by 189."
"This has been an amazingly thoughtful, open and deliberative process," Craig Hammerman, CB6’s District Manager told the Brooklyn Eagle after Monday’s committee vote. "A real credit to everyone who has participated."
Opponents, however, said the changes don't go far enough. Longtime Park Slope resident Marvin Ciporen, speaking for the opposition group Preserve Park Slope, told the Eagle, "The board has clearly worked hard trying to figure things out, but more needs to be done. The building needs to be made lower and more compatible with the community."
The hospital contends that if it is to remain a successful institution in a changing heath care 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 500,000 square foot building, with a 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.
The Landmarks/Land Use Committee had stipulated that the final design must comply with existing height limitations and must attempt to lessen the building's impact on the essential character of the neighborhood.
Besides the parking space reduction, NY Methodist must also continue to participate in a Traffic Task Force organized by Councilmember Lander’s office.
The committee also stipulated that the hospital must "continue participating in design discussions with the Park Slope Civic Council, CB6, and other concerned members of the community as a means to work toward consensus-building on building design issues, including facade designs, exterior materials and treatments" and more. NY Methodist's contractor must participate in a community advisory task force concerning impacts of the demolition and construction phase of the project.