Stringer examining deal that led to Vanke’s $116M purchase of LES dev site

Comptroller asks whether city’s role in sale of 45 Rivington St. will shortchange taxpayers

45 Rivington Street on the Lower East Side (inset: Scott Stringer and Vanke's Wang Shi)
45 Rivington Street on the Lower East Side (inset: Scott Stringer and Vanke's Wang Shi)

City Comptroller Scott Stringer is looking into a 2015 city land deal that paved the way for the sale of Rivington House to China Vanke, Slate Property Group and Adam America Real Estate Group.

Stringer is looking into agreement the city made with the Allure Group, a for-profit nursing home operator, to lift deed restrictions on the 150,000-square-foot property at 45 Rivington Street on the Lower East Side.

Officials say the deal was intended to facilitate the creation of a for-profit nursing care facility at the property, but instead allowed luxury developers to claim it for a new condominium building, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Allure bought the 1890s-era Rivington House in early 2015 for $28 million. A few months later the firm paid the city $16.15 million as part of an agreement to remove the requirement that the building be used not-for-profit.

Shortly after the restrictions were limited, Allure sold the building to Vanke, Slate and Adam America for $116 million, the latest in a series of joint ventures between the firms. The partners have said they plan to convert the building into 100 luxury condominium units.

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De Blasio administration officials say their understanding was that the building would become a for-profit nursing home.

“The city was as disappointed as local residents to later learn not only that the property would no longer provide needed health services,” Austin Finan, a spokesperson for the mayor, told the Journal, “But that the valuation of the deed restriction did not reflect current market values that could have generated affordable housing or other uses for the public’s benefit.”

Stringer has requested information about the agency’s appraisal and neighborhood impact procedures.

All deed application at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which processed the Rivington House house, are currently on hold pending a review of the agency by its new commissioner Lisette Camilo, who started in January, the Journal reported.

“We thought everything was going to be fine,” Council Member Margaret Chin told the paper. “Now we might get stuck with a luxury condo building. This is not what the community fought for.” [WSJ]Ariel Stulberg