Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan on Thursday to build affordable housing and a health care facility that will replace a nursing home on the Lower East Side that was closed last year.
The mayor announced the plan during a hearing that took place seven months after the shutdown of Rivington House nursing home. The city plans to seek bids for construction of the project in 2017, according to the mayor’s office, a move that will begin to repair the hole left when a “mishandled deed modification” resulted in the sale of Rivington House to a developer for luxury condos.
The city received $16 million in exchange for lifting the deed restrictions and allowing the nursing home’s conversion to luxury housing. According to the mayor’s office, that money will be used to fund the new development.
The de Blasio adminstration was sharply criticized for lifting the deed restrictions.
The city is looking at 30 Pike St. on the Lower East Side, less than a mile from Rivington House, as the site of future development. The property is owned by Department of Environmental Protection and will be reconfigured to accommodate the new project as well as DEP’s operations, according to the mayor’s office.
“Rivington House’s conversion to luxury housing never should have happened,” de Blasio said. “This community was the victim of a broken process, city error and unscrupulous developers looking to make a buck. Our reforms will prevent that from ever happening again. This investment is a reflection of our unwavering commitment to the health of this neighborhood.”
The city announced reforms in July to “provide more transparency and accountability for the public,” the mayor’s office said.
The reforms will formally require the city to consider public value of a project that seeks modifications to land-use restrictions. Freddi Goldstein, a spokesman from the mayors office, said the office is still "in the process of enacting the reforms." He added "We’re in a period of public comment," and said there will be a hearing on Nov. 1.
The Rivington deal is under investigation by at least four agencies, New York Post reported.
Thursday’s hearing was originally scheduled in July, but was pushed back; according to the Post, some councilmembers speculate that the man heading up Thursday's hearing, Chairman of the Oversight Committee Council Member Vincent Gentile, whose close ties to the mayor have been blamed for the Rivington House deal, played a role in the hearing’s timing.
“He’s very much the mayor’s puppet,” one council member told the Post. “He was one of the first to endorse de Blasio when a lot of people weren’t coming out to support him.”
“New Yorkers have a right to know what happened,” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said, the Post reported. Mark-Viverito has control over scheduling meetings.