Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis took her campaign to the Lower East Side yesterday, using Rivington House as a backdrop to criticize Mayor de Blasio’s ethics and his ties to lobbyist James Capalino.
In a statement outside the shuttered nursing home, Malliotakis said, “Today we stand in front of Rivington House a name that has become synonymous with the word ‘scandal’ because of the questionable dealings of Bill de Blasio, his administration and their favorite lobbyist James Capalino. The state assemblywoman from Staten Island added, “For decades the property was restricted and could only be used for a residential non-profit health care facility… Enter Capalino and two deed restrictions are lifted to allow the healthcare facility to be turned into luxury condos. Bill de Blasio was right… there is a tale of two cities and its Bill de Blasio’s donors and friends vs. the rest of us.”
Malliotakis said registered lobbyists should be banned from raising money for candidates.
The mayor has repeatedly said his administration should have never lifted deed restrictions at Rivington House, but claims nothing can be done legally to wrest control of the building from its new owners, Slate Property Group, Adam America Real Estate and China Vanke.
At a City Council oversight hearing held a year ago, administration officials announced that more than 100 affordable apartments for seniors and a health care facility would be built at 30 Pike St., in part to make up for the loss of Rivington House. While a Request for Proposals was supposed to go out before the end of 2017, there has been no word from the administration about the project since that Council hearing.
A spokesperson for the mayor told the Daily News, “Nicole Malliotakis, a former registered lobbyist, just accepted a maximum contribution from the landlord lobby and has never disclosed a cent of donations that were bundled for her by lobbyists when she ran for State Assembly four times. This is the height of hypocrisy and another silly stunt to distract from her support for Donald Trump and ties to the billionaires who fund the so-called ‘alt-right.” [Malliotakis’s spokesperson says she was never a lobbyist.]
Capalino did not respond to the Daily News’ request for comment. In the past, the lobbyist has noted that his work on the Rivington House issue ended before the deed restrictions were lifted.
At a town hall meeting on the Lower East Side earlier in the summer, de Blasio reluctantly agreed to a request from City Council member Margaret Chin to ask the developers for a meeting with community leaders. The idea would be persuade them to do the right thing by creating a new health care facility in the building. Local activists have heard nothing about that meeting request since the town hall.