LOWER EAST SIDE — In an attempt to make up for the loss of nursing home beds at Rivington House, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced plans to build an affordable senior housing and health care facility in a city-owned building under the Manhattan Bridge.
First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris dropped the news while testifying before the City Council during an oversight hearing on the administration's controversial decision to lift two deed restrictions on Rivington House nursing home for HIV/AIDS patients — a decision that allowed the home to be hawked to a luxury condo developer for $72 million. The mayor's office later made a formal announcement of the plan.
But though Shorris claimed the new facility — a building operated by the Department of Environmental Protection at 30 Pike St. — will replace the "bulk of what was lost in Rivington House," the mayor's office has only said the home will provide housing for more than 100 seniors, while Rivington held 219 beds.
The mayor's office could not immediately clarify or speak with greater specificity to the number of beds the new facility will hold.
And because the property is zoned for commercial use, it must undergo the city's extensive, roughly seven-month Uniform Land Review Procedure (ULURP) before getting the green light for residential use.
Even after the conversion, at least a part of the building will continue to serve as a DEP facility, according to the mayor's office. The site currently serves as a repair yard and storage facility for DEP, and includes an underutilized parking lot that the city may build on, according to a mayoral spokeswoman.
The city will issue a Request for Proposals next year, said the mayor's office, allowing potential operators to bid for the property.
Elected officials continue to pressure the administration to return Rivington House to its original use, but nonetheless expressed gratitude for the new facility — and optimism the mayor's efforts will match the number of beds lost.
"My first wish is to return Rivington House to its previous use, a home for those who needed assisted living support, but I look forward to working with the Administration and the community to build an equal number of permanent affordable senior housing and assisted-living units in the neighborhood," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in a statement.
Shorris, when asked about the possibility of reclaiming Rivington, said that while the city no longer had any legal claim to the building's use following the deed lift, the administration was exploring its options.