City Official who Approved Rivington House Deed-Lifting is Fired

Posted on: February 27th, 2017 at 9:49 am by

rivington-house-february

Under fire from all angles, the de Blasio administration on Friday fired the official behind the deed-lifting that ultimately resulted in the $116 million sale of Rivington House into condos. The scandalous transaction led to a $75 million windfall for the city.

The Wall Street Journal had the scoop on the firing of deputy Ricardo Morales.

Mr. Morales in 2015 approved the removal of a deed restriction on Rivington House, a Lower East Side nursing home that once served HIV/AIDS patients. Mr. Morales’ departure from his job with the city agency came just hours after Mr. de Blasio was interviewed by federal prosecutors with the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The Department of Administrative Services claimed that the Morales’ sack-job was part of planned, yet unrelated, restructuring already in the works.

The agency was “moving forward with several leadership changes and some restructuring designed to improve our efficiency and performance,” she said. “These changes have been in the works for some time and have nothing to do with the mayor’s or City Hall’s cooperation with the U.S. Attorney.”

Guy Oksenhendler, an attorney for Mr. Morales, said his client was being used “as a scapegoat” by Mr. de Blasio. “His firing was clearly political payback despite the fact that my client has done nothing wrong and was used as a scapegoat by the mayor,” Mr. Oksenhendler said.

Meantime, Bharara is relentless.

Mr. Bharara’s office has been examining the Rivington deal as part of a broader investigation into whether Mr. de Blasio’s administration gave special favors to donors, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

The Allure Group purchased the Rivington House from VillageCare in 2015 for $28 million, paid the city $16.1 million to lift a restrictive deed, then sold the property to developers Slate Property Group, China Vanke Co., and Adam America Real Estate for $116 million around this time last year. All along, Mayor de Blasio has maintained that he had no knowledge of the land deal; city officials also charge that the Allure Group intentionally misled them about intentions.

Recent Stories

Century-Old LaGuardia Bathhouse is Almost Gone [PHOTOS]

It sat vacant for four decades. Now, the long-abandoned LaGuardia Bathhouse is finished. A nub of its former self. Since our last checkup one month ago, the 1909 structure has lost most of its body. Removed brick by brick by men in cherry pickers. The mural on its western exposure – a depiction of Puerto […]

Dormant Red Mango on Allen Street Finally Gets a New Tenant

Red Mango closed its Lower East Side location on Allen Street four years ago. The space remained a dusty dormancy for the duration. Until this month; and henceforth, something completely unexpected. An interior decorator called APex New York that specializes in kitchen and bathroom fixtures. To be honest, this type of commercial occupant is not […]

Burned Out Black Seed Bagels Returns to Elizabeth Street on Thursday

Black Seed Bagels is finally ready to reopen its five-year-old flagship Elizabeth Street shop. The return comes five months after an early-morning fire tore through the establishment. The bagel outpost will resume hours at 170 Elizabeth on Thursday morning at 7am. On March 7, a fire sparked on-premise and knocked out the whole bagel operation. […]

After Years of Vacancy, Ernesto’s Spanish Restaurant Opening on East Broadway

Way down East Broadway, at the corner of Montgomery Street, an upscale corner tenant is entering the fray. This after five years of apparent on-and-off storefront warehousing by a controversial landlord. Eater had the scoop last week, revealing that Quality Eats executive chef, Ryan Bartlow, is opening a new restaurant here at 259 East Broadway. […]

Post-It Solidarity in Chinatown for Hong Kong Protesters

The splintered plywood on the perimeter of 282-286 Grand Street is now a makeshift statement of solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong. Within the last few days, a display of colorful Post-It notes appeared atop the weather-worn flybills, each with a message in Chinese or English. The stunt includes two small baskets stocked with stickies […]