Permits Filed For 28-Story Condo Tower Next to Bialystoker Building

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Developers have filed permits with the NYC Department of Buildings to put up a 28-story tower next to the former Bialystoker Nursing Hone building on East Broadway.

Round Square Development (then known as the Ascend Group) waged a lengthy battle last year to purchase air rights from the Seward Park Cooperative. In spite of an offer to pay $54 million for those development rights, the co-op could not muster the two-thirds majority necessary to approve the transaction.  So the deal died.

Now, developer Rob Kaliner and his partners are going ahead with an as-of-right condo tower and renovations on the landmark-protected nursing home building at 228 East Broadway. New York YIMBY first reported yesterday that the permits had been filed. The plan with air rights would have meant building two high rises.  In the new scheme, developers envision a single tower measuring 75,000 square feet. There will be a private garden for residents of the condo complex, on a lot bordering Clinton Street (formerly the Dora Cohen Memorial Park).

Earlier this year, a rendering from S4Architecture made the rounds. While it remains on Round Square’s website, Kaliner told Patch that the design is undergoing some tweaks. Kaliner said the conversion of the nursing home building is expected to be completed in February, with the tower set for completion a few months later.

Rendering by S4Architecture.

Rendering by S4Architecture.

Value of Potential Seward Park Co-op Air Rights Deal Rises to $48.6 Million

Renderings show possible buildings scenarios at 228 East Broadway.  These images were released in March of 2017.

Renderings show possible building scenarios at 228 East Broadway. These images were released in March of 2017. While developers could build on two separate parcels, a single tower to the east of the former Bialystoker nursing home building is more likely.

The board of the Seward Park Cooperative is inching toward a referendum on the sale of air rights to a development group planning a large residential project alongside the former Bialystoker Nursing Home building at 228 East Broadway.

On Wednesday evening, the board of directors approved a letter of intent that spells out terms of the potential sale. The deal will only go through if two-thirds of those shareholders participating in the referendum vote in favor. A date for the referendum has not yet been chosen. That will follow a community outreach effort at the co-op, which includes more than 1,700 apartments in four buildings on Grand Street.

A joint venture by the Ascend Group and Optimum Group has agreed to pay $48.6 million for 162,000 square feet in development rights. It would also reimburse the co-op for costs associated with the transaction. Last year, the developers purchased the former nursing home building, which is a city landmark, as well as parcels on both sides of the vacant property. In March of last year, we reported that the joint venture had committed to paying $46.5 million for 155,000 square feet. During negotiations, the potential size of their project and the price have risen. Earlier this year, the developers said they would build on the easternmost parcel, 232 East Broadway, with or without the air rights. They envisioned a 31-story tower if the co-op agrees to sell its development rights.

According to a memo sent to shareholders yesterday, the co-op has brought on a firm called NYC Meeting Facilitators to conduct, “a robust process to engage shareholders” about the potential sale.  Meanwhile, the Ascend Group has hired a communications firm, Global Strategies Group, to coordinate its own outreach campaign. Once the co-op’s tax specialist calculates the net proceeds from the proposed sale, residents will discuss how the co-op would invest/spend the profits. Seward Park has faced financial strains in the past several years, due to rapidly increasing property taxes and costly repairs within the 1960s-era buildings. 

The referendum was supposed to have taken place this past summer, but it was delayed. The issue has already been contentious, with some residents wary of the new project and others optimistic about a big payday.

The developers are just finishing up the demolition of 232 East Broadway, an office building next door to the nursing home tower.

Editor’s note: The publishers of The Lo-Down are residents of the Seward Park Cooperative. It is our policy to disclose any potential conflicts that arise in our reporting.

 

Plans Are In-the-Works to Create Replacement For Jewish Heritage Mural

"Our Strength Is Our Heritage, Our Heritage is Our Life" at 232 East Broadway. Photo via Sara Krivisky.

“Our Strength Is Our Heritage, Our Heritage is Our Life” at 232 East Broadway. Photo via Sara Krivisky.

Before 2016 slips away, we want to return to a story that got a lot of attention a few weeks ago.

On Nov. 7, the owner of a building at 232 East Broadway painted over the Jewish heritage mural that had been a Lower East Side fixture for more than four decades. Rob Kaliner, the new property owner, said he did it out of concern for pedestrian safety. He told the New York Post that pieces of the mural could have fallen off and injured someone. There are plans to demolish the office building next month in preparation for a new residential complex on the site.

Lots of news organizations picked up on the story, which was first reported by The Lo-Down. The Post’s headline read, “Residents livid after Jewish heritage mural painted over.” But now Kaliner and some of the people involved in creating the mural years ago are coming together to, hopefully, establish a new community-oriented art work somewhere else in the neighborhood.

Kaliner told us recently that he felt terrible about the way events unfolded last month. Sara Krivisky, one of the students who took part in the original project, was initially very upset that the mural was erased with no advance warning. But she and others tell us they’re encouraged by recent developments.

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This poster has been added to the front of the Bialystoker building by Rob Kaliner, its new owner.

If you go by the Bialystoker building, you’ll see a photo of the mural and a message from Tsipi Ben-Haim, director of CITYArts. Her not-for-profit group spearheaded the creation of the original musaic, which represented scenes from the Holocaust, Ellis Island, the massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games, sweatshops, labor unions and the Jewish Daily Forward. The message reads:

We hope to engage the youth of the past with the community youth of today to recreate the Jewish heritage mural on another site. We invite all the interested members of the community to help us in any way possible, including: planning, painting, fundraising, marketing, etc. Thank you for caring.

There have already been some conversations. Krivisky has been reaching out to some of the other students. One of the first steps will be identifying a location on the Lower East Side for the new mural. The group is planning to reconvene next month.

If you are interested in taking part in the new project, email: project@ciyarts.org. You can learn more about CITYarts by visiting the organization’s website.

 

Demolition Permit Filed For Bialystoker Office Building at 232 East Broadway

232 East Broadway.

232 East Broadway.

Demolition permits were filed and approved this week for a two-story office building at 232 East Broadway. The property, next door to the landmark-protected former Bialystoker Nursing Home building, is being readied for redevelopment.

There was a stir last week after the new owner, Rob Kaliner, painted over a Jewish heritage mural that had been part of the neighborhood for 43 years. Kaliner said he did it for safety reasons.

While no construction permits have been filed with the Department of Buildings, it is very likely that structures will go up on the lot where the office building now sits, as well as on the site of the former Dora Cohen park at the corner of Clinton Street and East Broadway. The Bialystoker building’s status as a city landmark will prevent its demolition.

In 2011, a former nursing home board president, developer Ira Meister, came under fire for acquiring the office building for just $1.5 million. The state attorney general reprimanded him and forced Meister to return the property. Kaliner recently purchased the three development lots for $47.5 million.

The building at 232 East Broadway played a bit part in pop culture. As fans of the HBO series, Flight of the Conchords know, the exterior was used to depict the fictitious New Zealand Consulate.

Jewish Heritage Mural Painted Over as Former Bialystoker Building is Primed For Redevelopment

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A piece of Lower East Side history is being erased this morning. Workers arrived earlier today at 232 East Broadway to paint over a mural that was created by a group of local teenagers more than 40 years ago.

As reported on Friday, Rob Kaliner’s Ascend Group recently purchased the former Bialystoker Nursing Home at 228 East Broadway, as well as two adjacent properties — the former Dora Cohen Garden and the office building featuring the mural. Plans show two modern structures towering over either side of the Bialystoker building, which is a New York City landmark.

The mural was called, “Our Strength is Our Heritage, Our Heritage is Our Life.” It was made by local youth, teaming up with professional artists and was sponsored by the organization CITYArts. It depicts scenes from Jewish history, including from the Nazi era. Some of the teens were children of Holocaust survivors. You can read more about the making of the mural here.

UPDATED 8:05 p.m. The New York Post has picked up on our story tonight. Kaliner spoke with the tabloid:

He told The Post on Monday that he chose to paint over the mural after noticing pieces of the building and large chunks of paint falling off the side. “It was purely done for safety reasons,” Kaliner said. “The building is going to be demolished anyway, and I wanted to make sure for the safety of residents and the people walking around there that it was taken care of without pieces falling of… We really apologize to anyone who was upset about it, but we wanted to make sure we kept the area safe, and that’s what we accomplished,” he said. “I would feel terrible if anyone was to get hurt because of the site conditions.

Thanks to Lori Cottrell and Freda Fried for tips earlier today regarding this story. Here’s a photo Lori sent us earlier.

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Former Bialystoker Nursing Home Changes Hands For Nearly $18 Million

Sale of Bialystoker Building Under Review; AG Says Board “Failed to Discharge Its Duties”

Bialystoker Nursing Home Controversy: Elected Officials Appeal to State Health Commissioner

New information this afternoon concerning the closure of the Bialystoker Nursing Home on East Broadway.  First, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, City Councilmember Margaret Chin and State Senator Daniel Squadron have sent a letter to the state health commissioner.

Former Bialystoker Building Has a “Flight of the Conchords” Connection

In our story yesterday about the closure of the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation at 228 East Broadway, we mentioned this property: 232 East Broadway. The former medical office building was sold last year by the nursing home, apparently to an LLC controlled by Ira Meister, a real estate developer and chairman of the Bialystoker board.

This building also has another claim to fame. If you’re a fan of the HBO series, Flight of the Conchords, you already know it was supposedly the New Zealand Consulate. The band’s manager, worked here as the “deputy cultural attache!”

Protesters Call for Investigation of Nursing Home Chairman

As we reported yesterday, residents and employees of the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation were outraged by the recent news that the 80-year old nursing home is preparing to shut its doors.  This afternoon, they gathered on the sidewalk outside the facility, demanding an investigation by the state Attorney General.

Myrta Chico Acevedo, whose mother lives in the nursing facility, located at 228 East Broadway, said the prospect of uprooting nearly 100 seniors is not only disturbing but could endanger the lives of some of the neighborhood’s most frail residents. “This center belongs to us, it belongs to the community,” she asserted.  Like many other participants at today’s protest, Acevedo suggested there’s something peculiar about the events that have transpired at  the nursing home in the past couple of years.

Specifically, the protesters said, the state should look into the sale of an adjoining building, 232 East Broadway, owned by the nursing home until last year. The three story medical office building was sold for $1.5 million to an LLC located at 127 East 59th Street. That LLC happens to share an address with Matthew Adam Properties, a firm owned by Bilaystoker Board Chairman Ira Meister.