New York Methodist Hospital has agreed to downsize a planned expansion after more than a year and a half of pressure from Park Slope activists.
A court settlement with the organization Preserve Park Slope has the hospital lop a story off of the proposed U-shaped outpatient center along Eighth Avenue and Fifth and Sixth streets, add greenery on the Eighth Avenue side of the property, and pledge to work with traffic experts to reduce the impact on surrounding streets. The settlement ends a lawsuit by the group and comes with the stipulation that the activists do nothing to oppose the process of securing new approvals for the modified plan. The neighbors who have spent the past year and a half railing against the proposed building in court, at hearings, and in a street protest, hailed the truce.
“We are pleased that we have reached this agreement, which will help to address the community’s concerns regarding the height of the new building, the impact of increased traffic especially on pedestrian safety, and the effect of the new building on the neighborhood character,” said Andrea Stewart, a member of the executive committee of Preserve Park Slope. “We will continue to work with New York Methodist Hospital to ensure that community input is incorporated into the site’s development.”
As part of the agreement, Methodist will move an entrance to the building from Eighth Avenue to Sixth Street, and employ a traffic engineer to develop a route for delivery trucks and ambulances that will minimize the use of residential streets, except in emergencies, according to a court document.
The city had okayed the plan, which required a zoning variance, in June, prompting an activist lawsuit that has tied up the process until now.
The agreement will not spare the 16 townhouses, some of them dating back to the 19th century, that the hospital owns and will tear down to make way for the new building.
A pro-expansion pol praised the cease-fire.
“I am pleased that Methodist Hospital and Preserve Park Slope have reached a settlement that enables the expansion project to move forward and responds to community concerns by lowering the height, allowing for more community involvement, and working with my office to address the traffic issues that have been raised by the proposal,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope).
Methodist had tweaked the design three times in an effort to appease the organized opposition, but to no avail. At one point, Preserve Park Slope tapped engineers and architects to draw up its own, alternate expansion plan, calling for shifting the bulk of the facility from the top few floors of the center to above an adjacent parking garage. Methodist wasn’t having that, either.
A spokeswoman for the hospital welcomed the end of hostilities.
“We are delighted that we have been able to resolve the litigation over the zoning variances in an amicable manner,” Lyn Hill said in a statement. “The settlement will allow us to move forward to construct the new outpatient healthcare facility, which is very much needed by the entire Brooklyn community.”
The planned Center for Community Health will house a surgery center, a cancer center, an urgent-care center, and a 300-car underground garage, among other facilities. Hill said the design change would reduce the number of chemotherapy beds, and force the hospital to keep its radiation oncolog, and wound care facilities where they are.
The settlement also describes the original plan as calling for a seven-story building, but renderings appear to show an eight-story structure.