One of New York City’s most important medical districts will be bolstered by new construction on First Avenue between East 79th and 80th Streets.
Extell Development presented its plans for the construction of a brand-new medical complex at 1520 First Avenue during Community Board 8’s Zoning and Development Committee meeting on January 25. The Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) signed a 32-year lease in October 2021 and will be the anchor tenant. It will occupy half of the building; the other half is open to new tenants.
The project is in the design development phase, but its footprint is expected to be 20,434 square feet with total square footage of 372,142. Its primary use will be a community facility dedicated to ambulatory care with 345,084 square feet spread out over floors 2 through 28 and the remaining 27,059 square feet tagged for retail space.
Architect Carl Ordeman of Perkins Eastman explained that the current plans call for a setback structure, one where the building’s face is set back from the rest of it. The tallest part will be 29 stories, but the bulk will stop at the 16th floor. It will also include a recessed, ground-level parking driveway on East 80th Street that can fit up to four cars for pick up and drop off. The site will not offer any parking.
Community members in attendance raised concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety, the lack of parking in the immediate neighborhood, and disruptions to the bus service between East 79th and East 80th streets. Some even suggested that Extell is unaware of how contentious the issue of parking in this area is, particularly on days in which alternate side parking rules are in effect.
Extell acknowledged that it was unsure if bus routes would be impacted and that it had not yet conducted a parking survey. However, the developer and its project architect tried to assuage the concerns by stressing that the facility will not allow for any overnight stays and that HSS will be generally operational from 8am to 5pm as a rheumatism and orthopedic type hospital. Extell assured those in attendance that it will investigate the issues raised, including a shadow study (literally a study of the shadows cast by the building).
HSS, through its representative Michael Rawlings, confirmed that it is taking the first eight floors and that the space will offer occupational and physical therapy. 150 patients are expected daily and 39,000 are estimated annually. Notably, this medical center will be HSS’ second major construction project in the neighborhood. The other is the 12-story, 90,000 square foot Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Tower on the FDR at East 71st Street.
Construction will proceed as of right (with no restrictions or special guidelines) and is expected to start later this year in May or June with a completion date in the third quarter of 2024.