We have known the day was coming, but it won’t soften the blow for many Lower East Side residents still seething over the Rivington House fiasco.
This afternoon, Slate Property Group filed work permits with the Department of Buildings for its luxury condo conversion of the former nursing home.
A stop work order has been in place at 45 Rivington St. since April of 2016, although the city allowed the developers to perform “exploratory” work on sections of the historic former school building. The renovation project was on hold while various agencies investigated the controversial $116 million sale of the onetime community facility. That sale was, of course, made possible by the de Blasio administration’s decision to lift deed restrictions on the building for $16 million.
Last month, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reached a settlement with the Allure Group, Rivington House’s former owner. So now, it appears, the luxury conversion is back on track. A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings tells The Lo-Down that the applications submitted today will go through the agency’s plan exam process, where they will be reviewed for compliance with the city’s construction codes and zoning regulations. A partial stop work order remains in place, but DOB can rescind it as needed to accommodate approved work.
There’s not much detail available just yet in the online file. The application simply notes that the owners “are filing for renovation of the existing building and conversion to residential use.” The total square footage of the project is about 122,000 square feet. A lounge and wine cellar are planned in the basement. The owner rep listed on the permit is Martin Nussbaum of the Slate Property Group.
It first became publicly known in February of 2016 that Slate, China Vanke and Adam America Real Estate had acquired the building. At the time, they said about 100 luxury apartments would be created in the former AIDS nursing home. While the mayor said his administration should never have lifted deed restrictions, there was no legal recourse to reverse the sale. Over the summer, he promised City Councilmember Margaret Chin that he would try to set up a meeting with the new owners, in the hopes that they might consider a community use for the building. That never happened.
The agreement with the attorney general requires Allure to hand over $1.25 million to local non-profits and to open a new health care facility on the Lower East Side. The city recently announced it would replace 60 of the 219 nursing home beds at Rivington House (those beds will be located at Gouverneur Health). The mayor’s office reneged on a promise to create a senior housing and health care facility on Pike Street.
UPDATE 5:29 p.m A spokesperson for Councilmember Chin, Marian Guerra, said tonight, “Our office is actively looking for ways to fight the conversion. Rivington House has been a community facility for decades, and we are not giving up on efforts to create a 21st century nursing facility in the building.”
UPDATE 2/10 Here’s a statement from Neighbors to Save Rivington House:
Once again, the Rivington House community has been forsaken. Our Mayor promised the Council Member he would call a meeting with the buyers to encourage them to consider returning the building to those in greater need of it. We can no longer wait for him. Nor can those who need those 219 beds, who were already struggling in defiance of crushing circumstances. We are now asking other electeds to step in: to invite Slate Property, Adam America and China Vanke to address the hole created when people here were denied this housing. Whether the building was taken by incompetence, corruption, opportunism, or in pursuit of profits is irrelevant to those in desperate straits. The buyers are not in financial need – one is the richest real estate company in the world. They intend their clients to live in this neighborhood. But there can never be a welcome here until work is done to resolve what happened to Rivington House. Nor can anyone afford to give into defeatism in a time when the worst of human damage seems ascendant. Our community has done important things because we refuse to quit on fighting for our most marginalized members. And we are not done.