City knew former Rivington House owner wanted to remove deed restrictions: report

VillageCare president discussed lifting restrictions with high-ranking de Blasio aide in 2014
April 28, 2016 04:43PM

Two years before the Allure Group sold the Rivington House to Slate Property Group and partners for $116 million in a scandal that’s embroiled City Hall, a high-ranking adviser in the de Blasio administration was aware that the previous owner was looking to have the property’s deed restrictions removed.

In May 2014, a representative for the nonprofit healthcare provider VillageCare, which at the time owned the AIDS-care residence at 45 Rivington Street, sent an email to the first deputy mayor’s chief of staff requesting help removing restrictions that required the former city-owned building to be used as a nonprofit and for residential health care, Politico reported.

“I am writing to seek Mayor de Blasio’s assistance and support on changes VillageCare would like to make to its service delivery infrastructure,” VillageCare President Emma DeVito wrote to Dom Williams, chief of staff to First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris, according to emails obtained by Politico.

DeVito wrote that VillageCare wanted to sell the property and was told by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) that one restriction could be lifted in exchange for a $4.25 million fee to the city, while both could be removed for a fee of $8.25 million.

“Both scenarios do not account for the millions of dollars we have invested in the property and will direct up to $8.25 million away from much-needed healthcare programming for the community,” she wrote. “The timing of these discussion are important to the completion of the sale and reinvestments.”

VillageCare later sold the building for $28 million to the for-profit Allure Group, which paid the fee to have the restrictions removed and sold it earlier this year to Slate, which plans to build 100 luxury condos with Adam America and Vanke.

DeVito asked to have a meeting with Williams to discuss an alternative to the fees in order to expand and maintain its health care services, but did not mention the site’s future use.

It was not clear if the meeting ever took place, according to Politico. A spokesperson for the de Blasio administration did not comment on the matter. [Politico]Rich Bockmann