Monday, August 1, 2016

Scott Stringer's audit blasts City Hall for inaction in Rivington House deed lift

Here's a look at part of the report via the EVG inbox...

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a report today detailing the findings of a five-month investigation into actions taken by the City of New York that allowed Rivington House – a nursing home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan – to be sold for a $72 million profit in February 2016.

The Comptroller’s Office found that multiple City agencies and dozens of City officials were involved in deliberations about the removal of two deed restrictions that previously limited the property’s use to a not-for-profit residential health care facility.

The Comptroller’s investigation found the Rivington House property was allowed to slip away because of poor execution of City processes that were intended to elicit public opinion and protect the City’s best interests. This deal resulted in patients losing their homes, healthcare workers losing their jobs at the site, a neighborhood losing a vital community asset, and the City losing its power to ensure that the property was used for a public purpose “in perpetuity.”

Over the course of the investigation, the Comptroller’s Office reviewed more than 80,000 documents, including communications among the Rivington House sellers and buyers and City officials and interviewed Administration officials who were engaged over a two-year period with issues related to this deal.

Investigators found that, despite 48 City staff meetings and hundreds of emails and phone calls, lapses in the oversight of the deed removal process allowed Joel Landau, principal of the Allure Group, to secure the removal of the Rivington House deed restrictions at the same time that he was working to “flip” the property into luxury condominiums.

“No individual should be allowed to profit off the loss of vital community resources,” Comptroller Stringer said, “But what’s worse is that the checks and balances in place to avoid this kind of outcome were mismanaged. We have to make sure our government operates with the highest level of accountability to guarantee this never happens again.”

You can find a PDF of the full report here.

U.S. Attorney General Preet Bharara and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are also investigating the removal of the deed restriction.



Anonymous said...

If anything, that report 'blasts' Joel Landau. There's a whole section called: " Joel Landau Planned For Months to Turn Rivington into Luxury Condos, but Maintained the Nursing Home Charade For a Year, Saving Him Millions in Taxes." The guy is a greedy pig and the neighborhood should make his presence here and life for this building--if the city lifts the Stop Work order, which it shouldn't--as unpleasant as possible. What a complete pig. The stories of bureaucracy running inefficiently are not shocking to me, though it sure is depressing that the City actually wanted to keep Rivington a nursing home but DCAS is such a disaster that they didn't know or listen.

Scuba Diva said...

Everything I've read about Rivington House implies that it's an irrevocable loss to the community, and that there's no way to get it back as a community facility. That's depressing. Is there no exception in the deed of any room in Rivington House that must be preserved as a community space?

The old Police Building on Centre street has a lunchroom that it's stipulated must remain a community space. The Christodora House has a pool in the basement that hasn't been developed or used because the "rif-raf" of the neighborhood would be allowed to use it if it were.

So it seems we just have to suck it up and live with this disaster; is there any silver lining to the story?

Gojira said...

So is there any legal way to reverse this horrific situation?

JQ LLC said...

If they didn't do it in the 80's as documented in City For Sale, in which tax abatements and compulsive rubber stamp upzoning led to the much of the over-development and enrichment of real estate moguls, including a certain power hungry instigator presidential candidate, then no justice will happen at all and more of these ugly behemoths, from glass to that putrid muddy grey color, will continue to rise unabated.

Especially with this sellout city council and those two scumbags in Albany and Park Row.

Anonymous said...

I wish someone with deep pockets would sue the city and the sleaze bag developer that shafted the citizens of the city. I was once excited about the promise of a De Blasio term but I would just about vote for anyone else today.

Anonymous said...

There may not be a way to reverse this situation, but we can exercise our outrage by voting against De Blasio if he decides to run again. We can follow the bouncing ball in the stories and make sure that local officials who were in the loop and did nothing to call out these criminals don't get voted back into office. Most local officials count on the power of incumbency. Let's wait and see if De Blasio fires anyone who was involved in this scandal. Every interview I've heard him give is a mea culpa--I didn't know--it will never happen again. The way to make sure it doesn't happen again is to send him and other politicians a message via the ballot box.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone really surprised? They should subpeona all the bank records for the inspectors, administrators, principals partners, contractors, etc. Soon enough they will figure out how this was "allowed" to happen. I would doubt that this type of fiasco happens more by influence then negligence.

blue glass said...

at least Christodora went to public auction without restrictions.

there was little outcry about the sale of a neighborhood facility. it was not a secret or hidden sale. it was "sold to the lady in the red dress".
in thouse days it might have been possible to stop the sale had anybody cared enough.

at that sale we were able to stp the sale of a city-owned lot that was "rented", from the city, as a play lot.

the sirovich senior center on east 12th street also has (HAD?) a pool - in the sub basement. there were a whole slew of reasons that it did not get renovated when the senior center moved into 12th stteet, or when they were later renovated. the pool with locker rooms) might still be there.

cmarrtyy said...

Typical political cover. Stinger can blast all he wants. That's his cover for when he runs for mayor. But what he has to do is get the building back. No cover-your-ass-politics. Just do your job. And do the mayor's job if you have to. Somebody has to set this right.

Anonymous said...

This report further convinces me that the city was at best grossly negligent in the handling of this sale. Deputy Mayor Shorris claims that he asked for weekly memos from agency heads, including DCAS (Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services) Commissioner Cumberbatch, but then stopped reading them. So he did not know of the memos sent to him saying that DCAS was working to lift the deed restriction on Rivington House. Unbelievable. How are you fit to be Deputy Mayor, Mr. Shorris, if you don't even read the memos that you asked for?

Dave - Everywheere said...

The rot starts at the top. Clueless Bill has no management experience and it shows. True, the mayor of any large city can't be involved in every decision but he needs to be able to have people around him who can be trusted to execute the laws and decisions of the government properly. Clearly, Mr. Shorris has not measured up in that respect and needs to go - either voluntarily or Mayor DeB needs to fire him, if only to preserve some level of credibility. He won't and that's why I'm anticipating that his will be a one-term and out situation.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried to get a city agency to do something? Normal city inertia should have stopped this from happening. The fact that Landau got this two-ton boulder rolling down a hill shows that someone at a high level liked the idea very much. Did they like it because 1199 liked it? I don't know. Maybe someone with prosecutorial powers can untangle this web.

Scuba Diva said...

there was little outcry about the sale of a neighborhood facility. it was not a secret or hidden sale. it was "sold to the lady in the red dress".
in thouse [sic] days it might have been possible to stop the sale had anybody cared enough.

There was—and still is—outcry about the theft of our community center. I know it wasn't covered in the mainstream media, but I live a block away and I've been abundantly aware of everything that goes on with—the former—P.S. 64, including the periodic demonstrations designed to revive the outrage.

CHARAS was sold to an anonymous bidder, whom we found out the following morning was d.b.a. "Sing Fina." [for Singer Financial, we eventually found out] At the time of the sale, when the gavel came down, someone began shrieking, and someone else released about 1000 crickets—which had been mail-ordered.

True, it wasn't enough protest, and it didn't make the front page of the Times, but our community has felt the sustained pain of the loss of our community center, and nothing—so far—has brought it back.

As for "the lady in the red dress," well, in this clip Mayor Giuliani isn't wearing red, but he is a lady: Rudy Giuliani in Drag Smooching Donald Trump