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Community Board 3: Too Early to Talk Compensation; Return Rivington House Now

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Elected officials and other community leaders held a news conference at Rivington House April 7.
Elected officials and other community leaders held a news conference at Rivington House April 7.

Community Board 3 tomorrow night is likely to take a stronger position than that of local elected officials in calling for the return of Rivington House to the Lower East Side as a health care facility.

On April 7, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Margaret Chin, along with CB3 Chairperson Gigi Li, held a news conference outside the former nursing home to “demand compensation for the loss of Rivington House” (press release). The city lifted a deed restriction, enabling the Allure Group to sell the property to luxury condo developers, profiting $72 million.

At last week’s executive committee meeting, Li said a new resolution was being proposed to drive home the point that it’s too early for talk of “compensating” the community for the loss of Rivington House. “We should not give up” on reversing the “deed change so easily,” she told other board members.

A draft resolution to be considered by the full board tomorrow night reads, in part, “CB3 is adamant that the sale of the deed restriction be reversed and the complete deed restriction for Rivington House be reinstated and now calls on Mayor de Blasio to return Rivington House to its use as a skilled nursing facility.”

On Jan. 27, Community Board 3 sent the mayor a resolution strongly criticizing the deed reversal, which had first been reported by The Lo-Down on Dec. 18. The resolution was apparently not read by anyone in the mayor’s office, at least not anyone in authority. The mayor has said he did not learn about the issue until March, when Comptroller Scott Stringer launched an investigation.

At the news conference earlier this month, Brewer said she’d like to see the deed restriction reinstated. But the emphasis was on compensation. “The city needs to invest in this community to replace a vital resource that has been lost,” said Brewer, referencing the loss of more than 200 nursing home beds.

The new resolution states, “…the City did not respond to CB3 in our attempts to save Rivington House as a nursing home which has now impacted the community’s ability to provide long-term affordable and skilled nursing care to its most vulnerable residents.” In addition to returning the property to the community, the board is calling on the city to keep a “stop work order” in place at the building until all investigations are complete.

One group advocating for a stronger resolution has been GOLES. Good Old Lower East Side. It is urging local City Council representatives to demand the reinstatement of the deed restrictions. Council member Ben Kallos, chairperson of the Governmental Operations Committee, will be holding a hearing on the Rivington House matter in early May. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services is under fire for approving the deed change.

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