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A Happy Ending for the Rivington House Saga

Lower East Side, Manhattan

Rivington House

Rivington House: the former AIDS hospice will be turned into a behavioral health center, not luxury condos.

Dec. 19, 2018

After more twists than a Charles Dickens novel, the long saga of Rivington House appears headed for a happy ending. Instead of becoming luxury condos under a back-door deal that gave the de Blasio administration an embarrassing black eye, the former HIV/AIDS nursing home on the Lower East Side will be turned into a behavioral health center by Mount Sinai Health System, Crain’s reports

The health system has signed a letter of intent with Slate Property Group to lease the approximately 150,000-square-foot facility. After filing controversial plans in February to convert the building into 102 condos, Slate appears to have changed course. 

The 2016 sale of Rivington House enraged community members and embarrassed the de Blasio administration. The Allure Group, a for-profit nursing home operator, had purchased the property for $28 million in February 2015 from nonprofit VillageCare. A year later it flipped the building for $116 million to a development group made up of Slate, Adam America and China Vanke. Allure was able to do so only after the Department of Citywide Administrative Services agreed to lift deed restrictions that had required the property to remain a nonprofit residential health care facility in perpetuity. 

The city Department of Investigation found "significant communication failures" in city government that opened the door for a health-care facility to become high-end condos. Mayor Bill de Blasio called the decision a "mistake" during a Lower East Side town hall last year. Allure ultimately settled with the state attorney general, paying $750,000 in fines and committing $1.25 million to Lower East Side nonprofits for its conduct. 

"The new center will be a state-of-the-art, community-oriented destination for behavioral health care and a 'one-stop' location of services for mental health, addictions, physical health and social-service needs for the downtown community," a Mount Sinai spokesman said.

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