They Knew About the Rivington House Deal, but Just Didn’t Care
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The Department of Investigations last week issued their scathing report on the Rivington House scandal, the former AIDS home now becoming luxury condos. A total shitshow from top to bottom.
Even though no criminal activity is thought to have occurred (in their eyes), the agency repeatedly found fault with the actions and, at times, indifference, of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. Basically, the gist of their findings is that top city officials knew about the Rivington House deed drama and couldn’t care less. That attitude paved the way for the controversial, $16.1 million deed lifting and subsequent sale of the property to developers Slate Property Group, China Vanke Co., and Adam America Real Estate for $116 million earlier this year. [New York Times]
The DOI report also shows that a representative from Slate Property Group demanded employees keep mum about the impending sale until Allure was successful in getting the city to lift the deed. So as not to hamper progress.
“Do not discuss this deal,” the unidentified Slate representative wrote in an email dated May 14, 2015, according to the DOI report. “The seller is very concerned that the city and union will find out that [the seller] is in contract to sell at the price that we are buying it which will directly impact his ability to have the deed restriction removed.”
“Once he has it removed,” the representative added, referring to Allure, “we can do whatever we want.” [The Real Deal]
Mayor de Blasio on this exoneration: “As I’ve said I think it was a mistake… It shouldn’t have happened. If I had known about it, I would not have allowed it to happen. And the report makes quite clear that I did not know about it. But at the same time, there’s been real concern about the nature of this situation. I think what’s clear is the left hand and the right hand were not coordinated. There wasn’t a good flow of information, and people were adhering to an old and mistaken policy. But that’s the extent of it. Nothing worse than that.”
de Blasio also said last week that no one is going to get fired over the bungled Lower East Side nursing-home sale because it was simply “a mistake.” So much for that faux outrage. [New York Post]
Here’s a joint statement on the DOI findings from Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Borough President Gale Brewer:
“This troubling report makes a clear case for increased transparency and public review in the deed restriction lifting process. On behalf of a community that lost an important healthcare asset, we call on the Administration to hold anyone that helped obscure the truth about this transaction accountable for their actions. In addition, we call on the Administration to turn over all relevant information, emails, and other documents so that all questions about this troubling situation are answered. We will be pushing for a hearing on our legislation to reform the process of lifting and modifying deed restrictions as soon as possible to ensure that what happened at Rivington House never happens again.”
…and the rich get richer.