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Community Members Demand Reversal of Deed Lift on Rivington House

By Allegra Hobbs | April 14, 2016 3:23pm
 The hard-lined resolution comes a week after local pols demanded compensation for the loss of the nursing home.
The hard-lined resolution comes a week after local pols demanded compensation for the loss of the nursing home.
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DNAinfo/Allegra Hobbs

LOWER EAST SIDE — A week after local politicians called for compensation for the sale of the Rivington House, asking that the money from the sale be funneled into the creation of a new community space, local groups are demanding the city reverse the deed lift that allowed the sale to residential developers and return the nursing home to the community.

Community Board 3 is hammering out a hard-lined resolution demanding the city reinstate the deed restriction that for more than two decades had secured the Rivington House’s use as a nonprofit health care facility, stating that the facility —which has long served the community as a nursing home for HIV/AIDs patients — should be reopened for community use.

“Our singular ask, on what I called our laser-focused resolution, is to reverse the lift of the deed,” said board chair Gigi Li at a land use subcommittee meeting on Wednesday.

The board has drafted the resolution in order to take a stronger position aligning with the community’s wishes, said Li, reserving the construction of a replacement facility as a last resort in the event the deed lift cannot be reversed.

Local activist group Good Old Lower East Side has penned a supporting statement, demanding the Department of Buildings' stop-work order on the site — which has been in place since April 5 — remain until the city reinstates the deed restriction.

“The Lower East Side cannot — and will not — accept further luxury development at the expense of the needs of the community,” reads the statement, which was read before the subcommittee at Wednesday's meeting. “Save Rivington House.”

The series of transactions resulting in the deed flip is currently under multiple investigations from city watchdogs — Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the city Department of Investigation and City Comptroller Scott Stringer are all probing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration for allowing the flip.

And now, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is said to be looking into the deal, in conjunction with a handful of other corruption investigations launched into the administration, Politico New York reported on Tuesday.

Additionally, community members and local politicians continue to push for greater transparency around such dealings in the future, providing more protection for the Lower East Side against unchecked development.

“As a community, we need to call for a transparent process that allows for the community to weigh in,” said Damaris Reyes of GOLES.

Supporting the community’s demands for transparency, Councilwoman Margaret Chin has introduced legislation that would require the city give public notice to local administrative bodies whenever it considers lifting a deed restriction, and would create a publicly searchable database for properties with deed restrictions.

The board's resolution will be modified and voted on by the executive committee on April 21. The final draft will be voted on by the full board on April 26.