Volume 16 • Issue 47 | April 16-22, 2004

Hospital looks to build 50-story apartment tower

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Local residents packed a Community Board 1 committee meeting on Tuesday to hear a presentation on the future of the N.Y.U. Downtown Hospital parking lot site.

A lawyer for the hospital confirmed that the site, bordered by Spruce, Beekman, Nassau and Gold Sts., is under contract to developer Bruce Ratner, who has proposed a mixed-use tower of about 50 stories, with apartments, Pace University dorms and classrooms, and hospital outpatient facilities. Representatives for Ratner were invited to the meeting but declined to attend, said C.B. 1 district manager Paul Goldstein.

Residents who live near the site at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge expressed concern about the tower blocking their natural light and decreasing their property values. They questioned why their input hadn’t been sought in the planning process and called for public forums where they could voice their opinions.

“Overall, this hasn’t been a great first step,” said Philip Toy, a resident of 140 Nassau St., after the meeting.

An official for the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development said the only city control over the property involved a contract between the city and N.Y.U. Downtown Hospital, stipulating that the land could only be sold to a non-profit organization. The city would move quickly to grant permission for Ratner, a developer, to buy the site, said William Carbine, an assistant commissioner for the agency.

The hospital urgently needs revenue from the sale of its land to bolster its flagging finances, said Stephen Lefkowitz, an attorney for the hospital. In return for allowing a private developer to buy the site, the city has asked that the hospital remain in the same location for decades to come and not reduce its services, Lefkowitz said.

Up until now, representatives of the hospital and Ratner had declined to confirm that there would even be a tower on the site.

Ratner has filed a statement of intent with the city Housing Development Corporation for $210 million in Liberty Bonds financing for the project, according to Tracy Paurowski, a spokesperson for the agency. In expressing interest in this federal 9/11 aid, Ratner indicated there would be 370 apartments in the building, Paurowski told Downtown Express earlier this month. Lefkowitz said on Tuesday that there would be about 350 apartments built.

When asked whether renowned architect Frank Gehry would design the site, a story first reported by Downtown Express, Lefkowitz said he had heard talk of Gehry’s involvement but declined to confirm it.

Goldstein said that C.B. 1 would organize a public forum on the hospital site and would invite representatives from the city, the hospital, and the developer.


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