Thanks, but no thanks: LES residents still want Rivington House back

Activists say City Hall’s new deed restriction policies fall short

TRD New York /
Jul.July 14, 2016 02:00 PM

Forget the proposed changes to the city’s process for modifying deed restrictions. In the wake of the controversial sale of a Lower East Side nursing home to a condominium developer, local residents just want the building back.

A newly formed group, Neighbors to Save Rivington House, said Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent proposals – meant to boost transparency and community involvement — fall short.

“We’re going to keep trying to fight for the building to come back to the community,” said Melissa Aase, executive director of University Settlement and a member of the new coalition. A petition launched by the group so far has 1,500 signatures, according to DNAinfo.

Mayor de Blasio has insisted he didn’t know about the deal to lift the deed restrictions on Rivington House, which paved the way for owner Allure Group to sell the building at 45 Rivington Street to Slate Property GroupTRData LogoTINY Adam America Real Estate and China Vanke for $116 million.

Amid fallout of the contested deal, however, City Hall last week announced several changes to the process for removing or amending deed restrictions.

For example, going forward the city would use “legally binding language around the proposed use of the property in the revised deed restriction.”

Approval for deed revisions would require a review by a committee, and the mayor would have the final say, instead of his Office of Contract Services. The city’s “policy goals” would also be part of the consideration process; previously, the process involved appraising the property’s value and assessing a fee, typically 25 percent of the appraised value.

There will also be a processing for notifying the community and gathering feedback when considering deed modifications. And City Hall also said the $16 million fee it collected for lifting Rivington House’s deed restriction would be put toward developing affordable senior housing on the Lower East Side.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer called the changes “a step in the right direction,” but Council member Margaret Chin said she would keep fighting for the return of Rivington House. [DNAinfo] – E.B. Solomont

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