The largest residential real estate developer in China has helped close a $116 million deal on 45 Rivington Street on the Lower East Side—a 118-year-old building on the corner of Forsyth Street that was built as a grammar school, served for decades as a nursing home for more than 200 AIDS patients, and will soon be transformed into about 100 luxury condominium units.
China Vanke Co. closed the deal with Slate Property Group and Adam America Real Estate, according to the Wall Street Journal. And while parties involved in the sale wouldn't confirm the seller, Department of Buildings records identify the former owner as Allure Group, a for-profit nursing home provider.
Indeed, records suggest that Allure Group played a significant role in the conversion of 45 Rivington Street into a for-profit luxury development. The Lo Down reports that Allure Group purchased the building from a nursing home operator called VillageCare in 2014, for $28 million. Allure Group reopened the facility briefly in 2015 as the Rivington Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, but shut down last December, citing its failure to obtain state Medicaid reimbursements.
The Department of Citywide Administrative Services told The Lo Down in December that DCAS had agreed to lift a deed restriction established in 1992 that required 45 Rivington Street to be "limited in perpetuity to a Not-for-Profit Residential Health Care Facility." DCAS spokeswoman Cathy Hansen confirmed that the deed was lifted last November, "after a request by the owner [Allure Group] to allow the property to be run by for-profit and/or non-profit operators."
The office of local councilmember Margaret Chin confirmed that she is looking into the circumstances that led to the deed restriction being lifted—a move that her office described in December as "disappointing," considering the lack of nursing homes in the neighborhood.
Allure Group could not immediately be reached for comment, but executives from the company have reportedly told members of Community Board 3 that they plan to relocate the nursing facility within the neighborhood.
Paul Leonard, a spokesman for Councilmember Chin, said on Monday that, "We are confident that the nursing home beds will be replaced within Community Board 3." Leonard would not confirm the source of this information, citing only members of the community, nor could he confirm if the beds would be set up at one site, or across multiple locations. He reiterated that Chin's office was not pleased with the deal, even with this guarantee.
When 45 Rivington's closure was announced last December, a former patient spoke anonymously with EV Grieve, admitting that luxury developer interest in the property was not a surprise. "The building is incredible with 12-foot ceilings and a penthouse floor that has a view from the UN to all of Midtown and Downtown," the reader said. "I knew it was doomed to have developers all over it from the first day I got there."
Another Allure Group nursing home—this one in Bed-Stuy—was sold to a residential developer last fall.