As recently as two weeks ago, Lower East Siders were rallying outside 45 Rivington Street and demanding that Mayor de Blasio take action to reverse the deed lift that allowed a nursing home to be sold to a Chinese developer who plans to turn the place into luxury condos. At a June 27th gathering outside Rivington House, locals criticized the mayor's "complete, deafening silence," but yesterday, de Blasio broke that silence, and while the new policies he announced won't reverse what's already been done to Rivington House, they are intended to keep future shady deals from happening and compensate the LES for the loss of the facility.

Until November 2015, a deed restriction required that the 118-year-old building at 45 Rivington Street remain a nonprofit residential healthcare facility—it'd previously served as a public school, and then spent decades as a nursing home for patients suffering from AIDS. But that restriction was quietly lifted after the building's then-owners, the for-profit nursing home provider Allure Group, paid the city $16.15 million to lift the deed, so that the largest real estate developer in China could close a $116 million deal on the property.

After news of the deed lift broke earlier this year, de Blasio said he wouldn't have allowed the condo conversion if he'd known about it earlier—he told reporters in April that "if they [members of my administration] had informed me [of the agreement] I would've said 'don't do it.'" However, recently-leaked memos suggest that at least one high-ranking City Hall official was indeed aware of the deal, which has since become the subject of city, state, and federal probes.

Regardless of whether or not de Blasio actually had an inkling of what was going on, he's now attempting to pacify critics who believe the deed lift was either an example of massive governmental oversight, or worse, evidence that City Hall can be easily exploited by real estate interests. The policy changes announced yesterday will make the proposed use of the property stated in the revised deed restriction legally binding, whereas before, a memo on the changes notes, the Rivington property owner "may have been in discussions about its sale with other parties but was not required to disclose that plan, nor any intended buyer, to [the Department of Citywide Administrative Services] either at the time of transaction or during the period of negotiation."

In the future, the memo says, deed restrictions will rarely be removed entirely, and only when doing so would advance the City's policy goals. It noes that "a core issue in the Rivington transaction was a failure to expressly value City policy goals and to ensure that those goals were reflected in the eventual DCAS action."

"These revised rules ensure that public good comes first, while also increasing transparency and the participation of the community in future deed modifications," de Blasio said in a statement. "The proposed changes will also address issues raised by the Rivington House transaction so that we can prevent similar outcomes in the future."

De Blasio also announced yesterday that the $16 million the city received from the former Rivington House owners in order to lift the deed restriction will be re-invested in the Lower East Side. Specifically, it'll go toward creating affordable senior housing.

But for the LES locals who have been fighting for months to get the city to reverse the Rivington House deal and restore it as a senior center, the mayor's announcement rang a little "tone deaf," as Kathleen Webster, one of the organizers, put it. She argued that senior housing is not the same as nursing home beds for people suffering from AIDS.

"This just doesn't answer anything," she said today. "Nothing. Zero, zip. I'm happy for everyone else that reforms will be in place so that Rivington House doesn't happen anywhere ever again, but I would rather they use that $16 million to mount an eminent domain fight or whatever they have to do to return this building to its rightful owners, which is the public. This isn't what we asked for."