A long-awaited hearing on the Rivington House fiasco will take place at City Hall today.
It’s a joint meeting of the Committee on Oversight and Investigations and the Committee on Governmental Operations. Key administration officials, including First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, are expected to testify. The city lifted deed restrictions on the former nursing home facility, allowing the property at 45 Rivington St. to be sold to luxury condo developers for $116 million.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the hearing is, “expected to be contentious, exposing simmering tensions between lawmakers and the mayor’s office.” It could be the de Blasio administration’s most detailed explanation of how the foul-up happened. But, on the other hand, the mayor’s team could very well proceed as they have in the past — declining to answer questions due to pending state and federal investigations.
Others expected to testify include: Zachary Carter, the city’s lead attorney, and Lisette Camilo, commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. That agency was responsible for changing the deed. City Council member Margaret Chin and Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3’s district manager will issue statements, as well.
In interviews with the City Comptroller, Mr. Shorris claimed he could not remember many details of the Rivington House matter. He insisted that no one informed him about the sale of Rivington House until February of this year, after the deal had been completed. The mayor’s office reportedly tried to keep Shorris from testifying. According to the Journal, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s staff have, “privately complained about the difficulties scheduling the hearing, which had already been postponed once.”
The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall Chambers. At 9 a.m., several community organizations are holding a press event on the steps of City Hall. The groups include: New York Communities for Change, VOCAL- NY, Met Council, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, Crown Heights Tenant Union and Neighbors to Save Rivington House. “In lieu of the Rivington scandal,” the press advisory reads, “outraged New York City tenants and housing activists, will demand the city stop giving away our city to luxury for-profit developers. Tenants will demand no public land or removal of deed restrictions should go to ‘for profit’ developers.”