Comptroller Stringer Scrutinizes $116M Sale of ‘Rivington House’ for Condo Conversion

Posted on: March 24th, 2016 at 5:19 am by
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​You may have seen this…

City Comptroller Scott Stringer is crying foul on the $116 million sale of the former Rivington House nursing home at 45 Rivington Street earlier this year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal this week. The buyer, Chinese-based China Vanke Co., is hoping to convert the building to luxury residential.

Quick recap: VillageCare had previously owned the 150,000 square-foot facility, but ceased operations as nursing home for AIDS patients in 2014. Allure Group, a for-profit nursing-care provider, purchased the property last November for $28 million, plus an additional $16.15 million to nullify the 1992 requirement that the property operate as a non-profit health care facility.

Stringer reportedly questioned the Department of Citywide Administration Services in a letter dated March 7, “asking the city agency for details on its decision last year to remove restrictions” that ultimately led to its purchase for $116 million. He also questioned whether the deal “shortchanged taxpayers” and was concerned about the lack of “public discussion” regarding the lifting of said restrictions.

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Photo: WSJ

Per the Wall Street Journal:

In early 2015, the Allure Group, a for-profit nursing care provider, purchased the building for $28 million, and months later paid the city $16.15 million to remove the restrictions that limited the building’s use, records show.

About three months after the city lifted the restrictions, Allure sold the building for $116 million to a residential developer that plans to convert it into luxury condominiums, over the objections of some community leaders.

Of­fi­cials in the may­or’s of­fice and at the De­part­ment of City­wide Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ser­vices, the agency that lifted the deed re­stric­tion, had un­der­stood at the time that the prop­erty would be turned into a for-profit nurs­ing home, Austin Fi­nan, a spokesman for Mr. de Bla­sio, said Tues­day.

Mr. Stringer, a Democrat who serves as the city’s chief financial officer, said in a statement he wanted the city to disclose the details behind the deal to ensure it was in the public’s best interest.

“It is incomprehensible that this property, which provided long-term care for patients with HIV/AIDS for more than two decades, would reportedly be converted into market-rate luxury housing without robust discussion, transparency and input from the community it serves,” Mr. Stringer said.

Asked about concerns that the $16.15 million payment shortchanged the taxpayers, Mr. Finan said the “processes by which deed restrictions are valued, and restriction removals are authorized” are under review and “subject to overhaul.”

City lobbying records show VillageCare spent $44,000 and $40,000 in 2013 and 2014, respectively, on the services of James F. Capalino & Associates, a city lobbying firm. The lobbying was focused on DCAS and the “deed restriction,” records show.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin acted as surprised as anyone else. “We thought everything was going to be fine,” she told the paper. “Now we might get stuck with a luxury condo building. This is not what the community fought for.”

Naivety runs high in city politics, apparently.

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