Oppose This! 

Join Our Efforts

Five years ago, Northwell Health announced plans to renovate and expand Lenox Hill Hospital by building the tallest hospital in New York City, the second tallest hospital in the world, on the existing site. To fund this multibillion-dollar project, Northwell planned to sell the corner lot on Park Avenue and 76th Street to a residential developer to build a 45-story condominium tower.

This proposal came as a shock to our community which promptly organized to oppose it. CPOLHN was founded in 2019 by neighbors outraged at the scale of these plans and Northwell’s disregard for the historic character of our neighborhood. We recruited coops and condos, private buildings, local stores and dedicated individuals to lend their support and donations to the fight. We hired health care advisors, zoning experts, urban planners, attorneys and PR professionals to build our opposition. We reached out to external civic groups including landmarks preservation organizations, health equity proponents and many others. We engaged with local officials at Community Board 8, our Council Member Keith Powers, the Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and many others at the City and State level to build a wall of opposition. We participated in the Lenox Hill Task Force convened by Ms. Brewer and Mr. Powers to debate the plan, which after several meetings adjourned due to the emergence of COVID. As a result of our efforts and press coverage, Northwell withdrew their plans to build a residential tower and submitted revised plans for the hospital, which still involved a height and zoning density comparable to the largest midtown Manhattan office buildings and unheard of in any residential neighborhood of the City.

When COVID-19 hit, Northwell turned its attention to fighting COVID rather than on expanding the hospital, and for the past three years, redevelopment plans lay dormant. CPOLHN supported and applauded the hospital’s commitment to the health of our community. We, too, assumed a low profile.

Before the pandemic with CPOLHN’s opposition and with negative press coverage, Northwell had already withdrawn its plans to build an enormous condominium tower on Park Avenue. OUR voices were heard then and will be heard again with YOUR SUPPORT.

Facing West on Lexington Avenue



Why are we opposed to the plan?


There is No Need for this proposal

The Upper East Side is over-bedded and already serviced by some of the most highly regarded world class healthcare facilities – Mt. Sinai, Hospital for Special Surgery, Weil-Cornell, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Rockefeller University. The UES has by far the most hospital beds in service per 1,000 residents of any area of the City -- 9.66 per 1,000 residents on the UES compared to 2.05 in Central Harlem and 0.42 in the Lower East Side and Chinatown. For a broader picture, there are 5.95 hospital beds in Manhattan compared to 1.41 in Queens and 1.61 in Brooklyn.)

Lenox Hill Hospital should continue to serve the community in a modernized/renovated structure that fits within its “as of right” zoning. In 2022, with 425 staffed beds in Lenox Hill Hospital, there was a 70.1% utilization rate. There was a 35% declining utilization rate from 2002 to 2022 due to a lower census and shorter stays. 

The current proposal is a vanity project. This expansion is not about market need but it is about Northwell fighting for market share and the prestige of a larger Manhattan anchor. In March 2019 Northwell Health’s CEO Michael Dowling is quoted in the Wall Street Journal, “You have to have such a facility in Manhattan to be continuously relevant in New York. I can build the greatest thing in the world in Queens or in Long Island, which we’ve done. But you still have to have a major presence in Manhattan.” On Crain’s NY Webcast (August, 31, 2020) Mr. Dowling said, “A lot more surgeries moving ambulatory anyway..…The hospital is only one link in the chain in the delivery of care.… Everybody focuses on the hospital, but most care is not going to be in the hospital in the future.”

These statements of Mr. Dowling's speak to the fact that the proposal is in essence already outdated as a facility of the future and will be even more so before its anticipated 11-year completion process.

There is NO NEED for the proposal as it has been presented.


A group of residents formed the Committee to Protect Our Lenox Hill Neighborhood (“CPOLHN”) in 2018 when Northwell first announced its plans to build a hospital tower on Lexington Avenue along with a residential tower on Park Avenue. Our mission was, and continues to be, to protect the residential character of the neighborhood.

The Committee and its supporters protested with Op-Eds, rallied outside Lenox Hill Hospital, attended, presented at many Community Board 8 meetings, and met with NYS and City elected politicians. We received much press coverage on local news sites (see links below). To date, more than 8,000 supporters have signed a petition against the project with over 3,000 supporters in the local Lenox Hill zip codes. Click HERE to sign the petition. Outreach is critical. Our politicians will listen to their constituencies. Please email this one-pager (link) to your friends and neighbors and ask them to join us.

Key members of the Committee and some of our key supporters held seats on a Task Force lead by then Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Keith Powers. At that time, the residential tower was dropped from the plans before everything (including the Task Force) was paused in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. 


In March 2021 the Zoning and Development Committee of Community Board 8 voted unanimously to reject the original Northwell proposal and the entire Board voted 35-3 against it.

The Committee was reactivated in full force when Northwell announced its “new” plans in December 2022. More than 200 people recently participated in a Community Board 8 Zoning Committee meeting when Northwell disclosed its “new” Hospital proposal.  And, numerous supporters spoke passionately at the March 2nd NYC Planning Commission’s Preliminary Scoping meeting and subsequently submitted more than 55 written testimonies against the Hospital’s proposal.

The Committee To Protect Our Lenox Hill Neighborhood is a 501C3 nonprofit, financed by contributions from member buildings and individual residents. Budget allocations cover fees for hiring experts in city planning, healthcare, zoning, health equity, environmental assessment, and public relations. All other staff are unpaid volunteers.

Current zoning laws DO NOT allow the building of a 434’ tower on Lexington Avenue or on 76th/77th side streets. The floor plate and mass of the hospital tower, with a gross FAR of 16.5, is vastly out of scale with the neighborhood. It would require a zoning increase of more than 40%. This is not a request for a variance; it is a destructive rezoning of our neighborhood. Not only would such a variance forever change the character and quality of life of the Lenox Hill neighborhood and its residents, but it would set an unparalleled precedent for other development projects all around the city. 

Buildings of this proposed size and density are found in, and suited for, commercial districts. There is no way to shoehorn a 30,000’ tower into a small residential block. Other hospitals on the east side are on “super blocks”, not squeezed into narrow residential streets. 

The neighborhood infrastructure cannot sustain a building this size. Lexington Avenue is the narrowest avenue on the east side. The flow of traffic is already compromised by a dedicated bus lane and a parking lane. It will be further compromised by the oversized hospital entrance proposed on Lexington. The narrow side streets on 76th/77th Streets will be even more congested than they are now. The plan accounts for a limited number of delivery and ambulance bays that are not designed as drive-throughs. Access for passenger through traffic will be thwarted since tractor-trailer trucks and ambulances will have to back in/pull out while other vehicles will be backed up trying to pass. Pedestrians on the sidewalks will run interference with the vehicles backing in and out of the bays.

Ironically, Northwell, the largest healthcare provider in NYS, will impact the health of the residents and people who work in and visit the neighborhood, potentially leading to an increase in cases of asthma, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases. At 434’ tall, the tower will emit significantly more carbon emissions than the entire current hospital. It is known that buildings emit an exponentially greater amount of greenhouse gas emissions and use an exponentially greater amount of energy after 100 feet, or 10 stories, and another exponential jump in emissions at 210 feet, after 21 stories.


The devastating environmental impact of the proposed building will go beyond the unprecedented eleven-years of construction. At 434’ tall, the tower will emit significantly more carbon emissions than the entire current hospital. It is known that buildings emit an exponentially greater amount of greenhouse gas emissions and use an exponentially greater amount of energy after 100 feet, or 10 stories, and another exponential jump in emissions at 210 feet, after 21 stories. Ironically, this healthcare provider will impact the health of the residents and people who work in and visit the neighborhood, potentially leading to an increase in cases of asthma, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases. 

The stress caused by 11-years of construction is unacceptable to residents, schools, religious institutions, stores, and hotels in our community. The Northwell plans should also be unacceptable to the doctors, nurses, and staff of the hospital. NO hospital has remained opened during construction while still operating part of the hospital on its own block. The doctors, nurses, and staff should be informed and surveyed about their feelings. 

During 11-years of construction, along with the street closures, there will be increased emissions from trucks and cars idling due to construction related traffic. Additionally, the increased dust and noise will make the residential neighborhood unlivable. Building materials and construction trucks will be parked along the Park Avenue median adding to an already dangerous area for pedestrians crossing the street – including children on their way to school and the elderly trying to navigate uneven and changing sidewalks and changing routes. 

The proposed structure would block natural sun and light and emanate artificial light, increase noise pollution, block natural airflow, throw off excess heat and increase refuse from increased foot traffic and vehicular traffic. These are some of the foreseeable environmental impacts that just touch the surface.


Northwell is not disclosing everything. There are still many unanswered questions. These questions should be answered:

1. Has Northwell examined other sites for this proposal and why were the alternative sites rejected?

2. What are the plans for other properties and existing buildings that Northwell owns in the neighborhood?

3. How will this project relate to the new ambulatory center that Northwell is building a block away on Third Avenue?

4. How is the construction going to be financed? Should NYS approve Dormitory bonds for a vanity project with NO NEED?

5. How will the project be staged? Will construction materials be piled on the grassy malls in the middle of Park Avenue? Will construction trucks deliver materials at night?

6. For patients who require more than a day of in-patient care, how will you mitigate the noise from construction that starts are 7.00am in the morning?

7. Why aren’t there any parking accommodations in the proposal?

8. During the 11-year construction period, where will patients enter the operating part of the hospital?

9. How will Northwell accommodate for the increase in foot-traffic?

10. How can they account for an increase in subway passengers on the already narrow (and un-expandable) platforms?

11. How will this affect bus traffic on Lexington and the 77/76th Street local stop?

12. What are the noise, heat, and other environmental issues of putting the mechanicals on high floors?


The estimated $1.6 billion cost of this project is a reckless expenditure for Northwell Health, a nonprofit entity. The cost is among the largest construction projects for a hospital in NYC. Even with assuming no cost overages and 30-year financing, just the financing costs associated with the project would be $8.million monthly—almost $100 million per year, every year for 30 years. That is more than $250,000 per day. Another way to look at the financing cost is that the 25 additional beds will cost $4 million per year per bed.

To pay this debt, Northwell will have to generate an additional $76 million per year. The new hospital will have 475 single occupancy rooms (an increase of 25 beds) - in a hospital that ran at 70.1% capacity for 2022 and 35% under capacity for 2002-2022. 

All patient rooms in the new hospital will be single occupancy. Medicare will only pay for a private room if it is deemed necessary. Therefore, only well-off patients will be able to afford to go to Lenox Hill. This is not, as Northwell Health purports it to be, an accessible facility for all the community at large.

Additionally, building at a time when hospitals are cutting back on underperforming facilities nursing staff and raises is negligent. With all the talk around healthcare cost transparency, Northwell Health seems to be ignoring the needs of the larger community, and especially underserved patients and poorly paid staff with this proposal.

It is common sense to argue that the $1.6 billion could be better used to hire more nurses, pay them more, and improve the medical school. 


Sign our petition.
Download it here.

Sign it electronically, and email it to stephaniereckler885@gmail.com