At their final meeting of the year, Manhasset civic members proposed a possible exterior plan that could limit the impact of Northwell Health’s planned surgical expansion that neighbors a historic estate that prides itself on its rural atmosphere.
The Council of Greater Manhasset Civics Associations on June 13 discussed a proposed compromise for Northwell Health’s planned $342 million surgical pavilion project at North Shore University Hospital — a mirrored facade.
In the organization’s February meeting, Greentree Foundation President Nicholas Gabriel spoke to the council about the nonprofit’s concerns that they would be able to see the new surgical addition, which is planned for seven stories, from different points across the expansive former Whitney estate property.
Richard Bentley, president of the Manhasset Civics Association, said he came up with the idea of this redesign in order to make the building less visually obtrusive to neighbors.
Bentley explained how the mechanical floor, which is currently structured to be on the fourth floor, could also be moved to the seventh floor, butNorth Shore University Hospital Chief Operating Officer Derek Anderson and architect Andrew Pecora from Cannon Designs have said previously that the mechanical floor is centralized in the building for efficiency.
Bentley said the mirrored facade would be beneficial to Greentree because the mechanical floor will not be illuminated by inside lights during night time, showing less light at night.
“That’s why they’re taking the third floor mechanical and moving it up to the top floor, so there aren’t lights behind it in the night time,” Bentley said. “The occupied floors will be down lower, so that the upper floors will not be illuminated from the inside lights. This strip of dark of the mechanical floor intends to make the building look not as tall,” he said.
Greentree’s property is lined with trees, and when the trees are in bloom, the strips of light will be covered that are below the top mechanical floor. The illuminating lights will be visible in the winter, however, when the trees are barren.
Bentley said proposed the mirrored facade for the east side of the building especially, which will be mere feet from Greentree’s property line.
“Common modern architectures make a building ‘disappear’ into its background and blend in with its surrounding by using mirrors,” Bentley said.
However, the plans have not yet been approved by the Town of North Hempstead and will require five variances for front-yard setback, side-yard setback, back setback, on-site parking and building height.
“So far, they’re given no timeline of when they’re going to release the blueprints, and they will table the appeal until they have it ready… We’re all anxious to see when this plan is going to come out,” said Bentley.
Greentree Foundation President Nicholas Gabriel said that the entire project is a work in progress, but the negotiations are still ongoing.
“They have mentioned the mechanical floor, and we will continue to have discussions with them,” said Gabriel. “We are hoping they give additional things to mitigate their impact on their property and this environment.”
Gabriel said Northwell has committed to making some changes to the facade, but has not agreed to change the size or location of the building.
Gabriel said that the next step for Greentree will be to attend the next Board of Zoning Appeals hearing on July 18.
Gabriel emphasized that he wanted the project to be done properly and under environmental restrictions to address Northwell’s impact on their property and the surrounding environment.
The planned surgical pavilion is expected to hold 44 intensive care unit private rooms, half of which will be for cardiothoracic patients and the other half for neurosurgery patients.
There will be 18 operating rooms and two shell floors for future intensive care rooms, and Anderson has said the plan is to move all intensive care units to the proposed extension in the next few years.
“We’re excited that the two neighbors have finally started meeting and discussing this further because three-quarters of the problems occur when neighbors don’t talk to each other,” said Bentley. “We’re glad to see that it’s on a good path, a plan that everyone can support, because they’re both quality Manhasset neighbors.”
Anderson was unavailable for comment before publication.
In other business, the Plandome Manor Leeds Pond culvert continues to deteriorate quickly.
Barbara Donno, the mayor of the village of Plandome Manor, said that the town Department of Public Works issued a request for engineering proposals back in October to the Town of North Hempstead, but nothing has been done since.
Since then, the town said fixing the culvert is set to begin this fall, according to Donno.
However, Donno said that this time is inconvenient because it coincides with the construction being done on Port Washington Boulevard.
“My concern, is the stress of the increased traffic on North Plandome Road over this culvert,” said Donno. “…God forbid this thing collapses, especially not with a school bus on top of it.”
Donno, Bentley and Ed Butt, the building inspector in the village of Plandome Manor, emphasized that the culvert must be fixed before the winter season, before the freezing and thawing of water further the damage of the culvert.