New York Methodist Hospital unveiled even more tweaks to its planned expansion at a city hearing on Tuesday, but said there is no way it could follow an alternate blueprint drawn up by activists.
The rejiggering marks the fourth time the hospital has gone back to the drawing board for its planned Center for Community Health, an eight-story U-shaped complex that activists say will clog the neighborhood with traffic, smog, and out-of-place architecture. Hospital reps presented the latest revision, which pulls back the upper floors of the complex further from the road, at a Board of Standards and Appeals hearing, arguing that the changes make the compound fit in better with the tree-lined residential blocks it will occupy on Fifth Street, Eighth Avenue, and Sixth Street.
“These modifications result in a building that is in keeping with the character of the neighborhood,” Methodist senior vice president Lauren Yedvab said.
The hospital rejected an alternate plan by activists that called for shifting the bulk from the top few floors of the center above its adjacent parking garage. Activists argued that the scheme would serve the hospital’s needs just fine and that the city should force it to follow their plan because it is closer to the current zoning.
“Since this alternative is clearly doable, the plan presented by Methodist to the [Board of Standards and Appeals] is not the minimum variances necessary, and the board has no basis on which to grant the variance,” said Bennett Kleinberg, president of Preserve Park Slope.
A hospital architect countered that the activists’ plan would require even more city approvals than Methodist’s. The alternate plan would also require a boiler plant at the top of the center and a patient drop-off entrance on Fifth Street that would draw even more traffic, according to the architect.
“It is impossible to build the scheme that they are proposing,” said Frank Gunther of the architectural firm Perkins Eastman.
A Methodist rep said the hospital will go into further detail about the latest modifications and further explain why it cannot adopt Preserve Park Slope’s plan by May 20, when the city is expected to vote on whether to grant Methodist the variances.