It has been almost a year since the historic St. Vincent’s Hospital closed its doors in the West Village, and the future of the hospital facilities have been at the center of a long community discussion. The latest discussions have centered around a triangular plot of land, and all signs are pointing to the possibility of a new public park taking over the space! Though the final say ultimately hinges on the decision of the Universal Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), design firm M. Paul Friedberg and Partners have already started plotting to make this space a green gateway to the Village.
The space in question, a triangular island just below 14th Street and 7th Avenue is well known to pedestrians in the area. M. Paul Friedberg’s design would call for the elimination of the hospital’s now vacant material handling facility and parking garage, opening up the space to 15,000 square feet of possible greenery, not to mention never before seen street vistas that are currently blocked by the oppressive structures. The plan also calls for 31 trees and nearly 5,000 square feet of planting beds that will incorporate the already present rose bushes.
The overhaul of this historic urban island is not without controversy however. The firm’s manager, Rick Parisi has presented the plans to community meetings and has been met with a number of very opinionated residents. “This park is the ambassador of the West Village,” one resident said. “It has to in some way characterize what we are.” Even more feathers have been ruffled over the idea of the space also becoming a memorial for AIDS patients, World Trade Center victims, and Sisters of Mercy who initially sponsored the hospital.
As many New Yorkers know, St. Vincent’s was one of the first institutions to treat HIV and AIDS victims in the 1980s, breaking down enormous social and political barriers. It was also one of the primary admitting hospitals for those injured in the September 11th attacks.
The final ULURP decision will be made by the end of this week, and we will certainly keep you updated!