The former Rivington House nursing facility has been sold for $116 million to a group that plans to create luxury housing in the longtime community space. According to the Wall Street Journal, China Vanke Co., Slate Property Group and Adam America Real Estate made a deal for the 118-year-old former school building at 41 Rivington St. (also known as 45 Rivington).
As we have reported in recent months, the sale was anticipated after the Allure Group, a private nursing home operator, closed the building in December. The company, which purchased the property last year for $28 million, has stated that the failure to obtain state Medicaid reimbursements forced the closure. The Allure Group also paid the city $16 million for the deed, which had previously restricted the building’s use to a “Not-for-Profit Residential Health Care Facility.” Community Board 3 and City Council member Margaret Chin supported efforts to lift the deed restriction because they thought it meant the 200-plus-bed nursing facility could continue to operate as a for-profit entity. They were furious with the de Blasio Administration for allowing the building to slip into the hands of luxury housing developers.
Slate co-founder Martin Nussbaum told the Journal that the partnership plans to create about 100 luxury apartments in the building, which borders Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The newspaper reported that the “venture hasn’t decided how much to charge for units but the pricing won’t be at the high end or the low end of the market.”
Representatives from Council member Chin’s office and the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer have been trying to find out why the city lifted the deed restrictions without any guarantees that the property would remain a community asset. They have told members of Community Board 3 that the initial answers have been unsatisfying.
Allure Group executives have asserted, in conversations with CB3 staff members, that they’ll open a new nursing home facility on the Lower East Side. It remains to be seen whether that will actually happen. Rivington House was a nursing home for AIDS patients until it was sold last year by VillageCare, which said demand for its services had fallen dramatically. The building conversion from a school, in 1992, was financed by millions of dollars in state bonds.
Here’s an edited version of the Rivington House resolution approved by the community board last month:
WHEREAS, in October 2014 Community Board 3 Manhattan supported the conversion of Rivington House from an AIDS nursing home facility to a general nursing home facility; and WHEREAS, Community Board 3 and elected officials and community residents worked very hard to advocate for the 219 nursing home beds at this location to replace the many nursing home beds lost in CB3; … WHEREAS, Rivington House was originally a school sold by the City to VillageCare with a restrictive deed that required the facility to remain a nonprofit nursing home in perpetuity, and VillageCare sold the same facility to The Allure Group with the same deed restriction and now the City (Department of Administrative Services -DCAS) – in November 2015 – has sold the lifting of the deed restriction for payment of $16 million to the City without any guarantee of replacing the nursing home beds within the neighborhood and serving the same population and without guarantee for use of the facility at 45 Rivington as a needed community benefit; and WHEREAS, this action to lift the deed restriction occurred out of public view, with a total lack of transparency and without fair or reasonable public notice to CB3, local elected officials and other community stakeholders; and WHEREAS, this lack of transparency is especially egregious since those stakeholders were the interested parties involved in the October 2014 effort to preserve Rivington House as a general nursing home and preserve the maximum number of beds; now THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, CB3 calls on the City to disclose information as to what transpired with respect to this transaction, and CB3 calls on the City to explore options to reverse this decision immediately; and THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, CB3 adamantly opposes any potential conversion of Rivington House to free market housing or private commercial use, as has been made possible by the lifting of the deed restriction; and THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, CB 3 believes that the City (DCAS) should not have sold off the deed restriction without guarantee of the nursing home beds being replaced in the community and the facility remaining as a benefit for the community; and THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, CB3 must be involved in any transition or change to the Rivington House facility. Rivington House, which was first a school, then an AIDS Nursing Home, and finally a general nursing home facility. Furthermore, this facility should not be sold for private use, which would not benefit the community, but should remain a facility that serves the underserved and most vulnerable; and THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, CB 3 believes without question that, if the Administration, elected officials and stakeholders have exhausted all available efforts to reverse this action and the transaction ultimately goes forward, the 219 nursing homes beds that existed in Rivington House nursing facility should be replaced within CB3 to mitigate the loss of many nursing home beds in the last several years.