It’s too late to save Rivington House, the former HIV treatment facility that a non-profit nursing home operator unexpectedly flipped to a luxury developer after the city quietly lifted a deed restriction. But a bill signed into law today should do something to prevent buildings designated for community use from becoming luxury condos.
The new law requires the city to maintain a searchable online database of properties with deed restrictions, and forces developers who want to have them lifted to inform their local City Council member, community board, and borough president. The law requires the mayor, a specially formed committee, and the Department of City Planning to review any such requests, and approve them with the mayor’s personal sign-off only if they’re deemed to be in the city’s best interest. While there had been talk of requiring the city’s stringent Uniform Land Use Review Procedure in such scenarios, the new law stops short of that.
“The whole notion of the deed restriction is that a luxury developer doesn’t swoop in and take the property away from the community,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said in April, at a press conference during which she and Council Member Margaret Chin announced their intention to bring the new legislation.
In a statement today, Chin, who represents the Lower East Side, reiterated that “our city is not a playground for powerful real estate interests,” and promised “no more Rivington Houses, not on this Mayor’s, or any other Mayor’s watch.”
In September, Mayor de Blasio announced that the city aimed to make up for the loss of Rivington House by opening a new facility, at 30 Pike Street, that would provide affordable housing to more than 100 seniors.