NYU Winthrop Hospital looks to be expanding once again with a new pavilion on the hospital’s campus on the northwest side. Last week, members of NYU Winthrop Hospital, along with their attorney, went before the village board to ask for various conditions from 1994 to be lifted in order to build its newest addition.
“At this time NYU Winthrop Hospital is seeking to make an addition to the current Life Pavilion located at the northwest portion of the building of the hospital campus,” said Thomas McKevitt, who is a land use and zoning attorney. “They’re seeking an additional two-stories for the current pavilion with a one-story mechanical penthouse, which will come to a total height of 64-feet, 6-inches. The total addition will be 46,500 additional square feet to the existing building.”
On Feb. 28, of this year the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) held a hearing regarding the variances that were needed for construction. Those variances included a front yard and side rear setback, and an adjustment to the height of the building and parking around the area. According to McKevitt and village zoning calculations, the new pavilion would require an additional 116 parking spaces or 96 depending on the permit.
“On the Winthrop campus, there are technically 2,199 spaces,” explained McKevitt. “According to that inventory, we actually have 570 spaces in surplus what the code actually requires us, but the problem is that the employee parking garage, which is on the south side of LIRR tracks, has 1,327 spaces, and it’s physically connected to the hospital by the pedestrian bridge that goes over the bridge. Because that parking garage is not in the hospital H-Zone, those spaces are not counted as part of the parking for the hospital. So even though the garage is there, technically, it’s not counted. In actuality, we do have the space, and that was one of the reasons why we came before the Board of Zoning Appeals back in February.”
On April 12, of this year, the BZA granted NYU Winthrop Hospital the needed variances.
“Back in 1994, back in the southwest corner of the property, there was an application to demolish two residences and increase some parking spaces,” said McKevitt. “As part of the comprehensive decision, a number of conditions were put on the board, including the fact that only those two houses would be demolished. There was also a lot of requirements for vegetation and planting to beautify the area as well.”
Another condition that was set in 1994 was NYU Winthrop Hospital could no longer build any further west than its most westerly building from the hospital at that time, which was the Hope Pavilion. The agreement is known as Hope Covenant.
“The concern of the village board at that point was the hospital increasing eight times,” McKevitt told the board. “That was a covenant that was imposed in 1994, and we’ve lived with that up until that time. In 2019, due to the increase that we have to do with the site, we are simply out of room on the campus’ property. What we’re seeking to do is have an exception to that 1994 condition to allow us to build a slight addition onto the left, which would require [20-feet, 1 inch] into the breach of that hope line.”
All of the houses on Fleet Place, which are owned by NYU Winthrop Hospital and a driveway on First Street that goes between those houses, will all remain where they are. The hospital is shifting over the driveway a little over to the west in order to make room for the new pavilion, which is the main legal premise of why NYU Winthrop Hospital went before the village board.
“We’re attempting to meet the demands and the needs of the community, not just the community of Mineola,” said Justin Burke, who is the director of external affairs of NYU Winthrop Hospital. “We have found that we have to stay with the times, and a lot of the hospitals in the New York area as well as throughout the United States are going to single bedding room options. This [new pavilion] will allow us to do just that. By going to single bedding room options, we find it cuts down on infection control and infections being spread, not there is an issue with NYU Winthrop Hospital with infection, but keeping in touch with the changing and evolving medical thoughts and processes [is the goal].”
With the expansion, the hospital will have a total of 40 NICU neonatal ICU bassinets, which is a net increase of no more than 13 than what the hospital currently has. The proposed expansion also includes 46 new beds increasing the number of patients, who will have private rooms providing a 32 bed increase. The pavilion would be similar to the building that is currently there just to the east, right in line with what’s on the property and will be completely within the hospital zone, not breaching into any R1 residential zones.
“Currently I know there are a lot of concerns with parking,” explained Burke. “We’ve been in the neighborhood speaking to residents and neighbors of ours to the hospital. Parking is a genuine concern and I hear it loud and clear. What we do is that we provide parking for our employees with shuttle buses not just to the parking garage, but we also have an interest in the Sears lot [in Garden City].”
After the presentation came time for the village board to ask questions about the impending new pavilion.
“I have no problem with this request and I know it’s needed,” said trustee Paul Cusato. “We’re talking 20-feet, 1-inch today. Back in 1994, you were talking about demolishing homes and parking lots, are you going to stand by this 20 feet or are you going to come back and say ‘Listen, I need another 40 feet for another building?’ Where do you stand with your westerly expansion that will affect the houses on Fleet Place?”
For this application alone, McKevitt reassured the board that the 20-feet, 1-inch line is what the hospital is seeking.
“As we know, in several months NYU Winthrop will be completely in control with NYU Langone and I’m not going to hide the fact there are many thoughts as to what to do with the hospital campus in the future,” said McKevitt. “There’s nothing on building west from this [hope] line at this point.”
Trustee George Durham brought up the topic of parking congestion by employees who park their cars on streets near the houses, which surround the hospital, and suggested the hospital use the 570 extra spots that the hospital has to ease congestion.
“We’ve been attempting to police it to the best of our abilities,” said Burke. “We’ve also had some programs to persuade the employees to park on our property rather than be a nuisance to the community and surrounding areas. We have valet service behind the hospital for physicians and medical staff as well as at the employee garage.”
“We’re not looking to have a great staff increase, but we acknowledge the issue exists,” added McKevitt. “We’ve been doing everything we can to remedy the situation. We want to be good neighbors to people in the neighborhood.”
Construction on the new pavilion isn’t likely to happen any time soon. If approved, NYU Winthrop Hospital still has a lot of architectural and engineering plans before breaking ground.
“Hopefully, by that point a lot of the construction that is happening in the village will be tapering down,” said McKevitt. “We’re not looking to start in the next couple of months by any stretch of the imagination. We still have to bid out the project to a developer, too.”
Mayor Scott Strauss entertained a motion to reserve the board’s decision for a later time.