More Details Emerge Regarding Those Mysterious Rivington House Emails

45 Rivington St.
45 Rivington St.
45 Rivington St.

Hardly a day goes by in which we don’t learn a few more details about the bungled Rivington House nursing home transaction. Here’s the latest.

A report in Politico New York offers new insight about the lifting of deed restrictions on the Lower East Side building, which is now primed for luxury redevelopment.  On Oct. 29, 2014, Joel Landau of the Allure Group wrote to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) about a building his nursing home company wanted to buy at 45 Rivington St.

Landau indicated that he wished to “keep the home as it is, with the continued employment of the 250+ union employees currently working at the facility.” But in the email, Landau said he wanted the city to eliminate a not-for-profit requirement that was part of the deed.

After Allure Group purchased the building three months later, Landau contacted DCAS again. The following query was sent to Randal Fong, an assistant commissioner on April 27, 2015:

…With this letter we are requesting to remove both restrictions on the property. We engaged Peter Rastetter from Metropolitan Valuation Service to help us validate the value by conducting an independent appraisal.

The Times also reported details of the original October email today:

The email, shared by City Hall officials, appeared to be the only written assurance from Allure Group that it would operate a long-term care center in the building if the deed restriction was lifted. Mr. Landau, who also spoke about the building with local officials and the community board, did not respond to a request for comment. “We were just shocked when we heard that this Allure Group, that gave us the understanding that they were going to run it as a long-term care facility, turned around and sold it,” said Councilwoman Margaret Chin, a Democrat, who advocated keeping some sort of nursing home there. On May 11, 2015, for a single day, a public notice of a hearing on the proposed deed changes appeared in the City Record. On the same day, Allure Group went into contract to sell the property to the condominium developer. “This action is in the best interest of the city,” the notice read, as do all such notices. None of the local advocates and elected officials were alerted.

As Politico noted, there are a number of troubling issues around this story: “One question, as Mayor Bill de Blasio scrambles to react to the news, is why he’s acting so shocked that the developer could do such a thing.”

As we first reported, Community Board 3 sent a strongly worded resolution to the Mayor on Jan. 27, urging the administration to reverse the decision. We also brought the matter up with city officials four months ago. Here’s our email chain with the spokesperson for DCAS:

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On Thursday, the city’s Department of Investigation subpoenaed records relating to the Rivington House deal. According to the Daily News, the agency “issued six subpoenas to a variety of parties, including the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.”