Can the city’s decision to lift deed restrictions on the former Rivington House nursing facility be reversed? That was the question asked of Mayor de Blasio this morning during an interview on Brian Lehrer’s WNYC program.
The question did not come from the host, but from a resident of the Lower East Side. Tessa Huxley is the president of the limited equity co-op located next door to the Rivington House building. She called in on the radio show’s weekly “Ask the Mayor” segment. Here’s an edited version of the exchange:
Huxley: After living here for more than 35 years and making this neighborhood more and more livable and trying to preserve its affordability, my neighbors and I are completely dismayed by your administration’s failure to protect the public good when it removed the deed restrictions on that property. What I want to know is how you and your team can save this beautiful (building), which was converted from a public school with public dollars and make sure that it can be a neighborhood medical facility, such as a nursing home — like it was supposed to become — or perhaps long-term housing for people suffering from AIDS…
(Lehrer asked the mayor whether it’s too late for a reversal)
Mayor: That’s what we’re exploring right now. Tessa, thank you for the question. I share your frustration deeply. A couple of points I want to make. Of course, the Rivington matter is under the investigatory process and we’re going to let that play out. So I can speak broadly… This should not have happened, period.
(De Blasio then went on to explain that he’s decided to make changes in the way his administration deals with deed changes. You can read more about there here. Lehrer pressed once again for an answer to Huxley’s specific question.)
Mayor: That’s an excellent question. Look, I don’t know the answer yet. We are exploring that question right now. As soon as I can say more to the community about what can happen on that site, I will. But to Tessa’s core point, it should not have happened. There’s no two ways about it…
If you’re a reader of The Lo-Down, Huxley’s name might sound familiar. In December of 2015, Huxley told us that she had been approached by a rep of a construction firm working for the Slate Property Group. This person told her that Slate was purchasing the building and planned a residential conversion of the Rivington House property. Slate is one of three development firms that purchased the building for $116 million. A luxury conversion is in the works, although a “stop work order” was imposed by the Department of Buildings.
Huxley tells us the mayor’s office is now trying to contact her. Her previous attempts to contact someone in the administration were unfruitful.