Montefiore Medical Center says it is prepared to take a scalpel to its controversial plans to build an ambulatory center in Riverdale.
But locals are still left guessing to what degree the borough’s medical giant will shrink its design — or whether or not it will be subject to a new Bronx law aimed to force such projects to go through unprecedented levels of red tape.
Hospital staff is expected to meet with the land use committee of Community Board 8 on July 22 to discuss a scaled-down complex at the proposed site on Riverdale Avenue and West 238th Street.
Montefiore had originally proposed an 11-story, 95,000-square-foot outpatient center there that caused an outcry from neighbors who thought such a building would conflict with the area’s residential character and cause traffic jams, among other gripes.
The community outrage prompted state Sen. Jeff Klein (D–Morris Park) and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D–Riverdale) to push through a law in March creating a new review process for outpatient health care centers over three stories tall or 30,000 square feet planned for the Bronx.
Such projects must now go through a series of mandatory community forums before the state Department of Health has a chance to approve them.
Klein vowed in March that construction on the Riverdale site could not start for at least two years.
It remains unclear whether the Montefiore Riverdale site will become the new law’s guinea pig, or if it will be downsized enough to get around the legislation.
An assistant vice president at the health care chain, Kate Rose, told Community Board 8’s land use committee in June that Montefiore was considering an “approximately three-story health facility with on-site parking,” according to a report in the Riverdale Press.
Such a plan would be exempt from going through Klein’s law, if it was also less than 30,000 square feet.
But a hospital spokeswoman backtracked a bit this week in an e-mail to the Times-Reporter, saying only that Montefiore plans to “significantly reduce the project,” and wouldn’t specify whether the new plans were less than three stories tall, or smaller than 30,000 square feet.
“We will be sharing the new plans with the public in the coming weeks,” wrote Tracy Gurrisi.
Until then, Riverdale is keeping its fingers crossed — and elected officials will be watching.
“I have stood with the Riverdale community every step of the way in fighting against this health facility,” said Sen. Klein, “And I will continue to stand with them with respect to Montefiore’s newest iteration of its proposed Riverdale development.”
©2014 Community News Group