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CB Approves JHL Campus Rezoning, Paving Way for Development

By Emily Frost | January 17, 2014 2:11pm
 The Land Use Committee agreed to rezone a portion of two blocks to make them in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood. 
Rezoning Approved by CB7 for West 106th Street
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UPPER WEST SIDE — The community board gave the green light to a zoning change that would bar the developers who own the site of Jewish Home Lifecare's West 106th Street campus from constructing large buildings that were out of character with the rest of the neighborhood.

But some residents feared that the move was an excuse to push along JHL's plan to build a massive new nursing facility on a parcel it obtained in a land swap with the developer, Chetrit, on 97th Street — a controversial location.

The zoning change would limit Chetrit to build 10-12 story buildings and ensure that they are in line with surrounding structures, which current zoning at the site does not restrict.

In 2007, zoning restrictions were placed on the neighborhood in order to put the brakes on overdevelopment.

But a two-block parcel was granted an exception, based on JHL's plan to update its aging facility by building a 20-story nursing home there.

The move was controversial at the time because community members said it was rammed through at the last moment and didn't have community approval.

No action was taken until a 2011 land swap between JHL and Chetrit, in which the non-profit nursing facility swapped its current campus for an empty parcel of land on West 97th Street and $35 million from Chetrit.

The land swap drew fire because some residents were afraid of the new nursing facility being built by a school and in a neighborhood with a much denser population.

Some feared that the dynamite blasts from the construction could injure children and create dust.

Chetrit said it plans to build two 11-story buildings along West 106th Street and one 7-story building along West 105th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues. 

Construction would begin in 2017 and be completed by 2019, after JHL moves into its new building.

Chetrit's request was approved by CB7's Land Use Committee and will next go before the Manhattan Borough president for comment, followed by the New York City Department of City Planning for its approval.

The move drew painful memories and fears from community members who said they felt betrayed by both JHL and the developer. 

Land Use Committee Co-Chair Page Cowley described approving the rezoning as "bittersweet...where we’re pushing one problem into another neighborhood."

Other residents applauded the move. 

"I never thought we’d be able to revisit this and right this wrong," said Manhattan Valley resident Glory Ann Kerstein. "I stand here overjoyed."