Skyview residents want Hebrew Home plan nixed


Skyview-on-the-Hudson is not putting out the welcome mat for the Hebrew Home of Riverdale.

Instead, more than 2,500 co-op residents signed a petition against a proposed continuing care residential community at the Palisade Avenue site — or as it’s more commonly known in the assisted living facility industry, a CCRC.

Hebrew Home has plans for two structures at six and four stories on its southern campus, along with a 12-story structure on its northern portion. The units would offer independent living along with other services — primarily medical — for older adults. In other states where CCRCs are more common, this is known as an added step between complete independent living, and the need for assisted living.

Skyview, located on Arlington Avenue, towers over the current Hebrew Home and the site, which all borders the Hudson River. While other neighbors around Hebrew Home have been against the proposed CCRC, the petition from Skyview came after both co-op president Steven Chait and Daniel Reingold — chief executive of Hebrew Home’s nonprofit parent RiverSpring Health — opened talks about the project.

“We feel it is important that our community board and elected officials understand our grave concerns over this project, and its ramification not only on Riverdale, but if the precedent is set, on other similar communities throughout New York,” Chait said.

In order to get approval to construct the CCRC, Hebrew Home needs approval through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, since much of the property earmarked for the CCRC is zoned for single-family homes. Changes to the status would need approval by the Bronx borough president, city council and the mayor’s office.

Community Board 8 also would weigh in on the decision.

A variance to the current zoning on the southern parcel would “set a precedent across the city and state that all zoning laws are negotiable,” Chait said, “creating a domino effect that would destroy the integrity of these regulations.”

Besides the height of the buildings, Chait also worries the 117-unit project does not adequately address the additional traffic he said will flow into Palisade because of the CCRC. Even more, units would run between $725,000 and $1.35 million, Chait added, with up to $8,000 in additional fees. That would make the CCRC affordable only to those at the highest income levels.

The Hebrew Home, however, notes that while final pricing has yet to be determined, when residents buy into a CCRC, they are not just paying for a unit and services — they are paying for their care through the end of their life.

CCRC residents will have full access to the assisted living facility, and if at some point they have to move into the constant-care section of the campus, all those services are covered from their initial CCRC purchase.

When residents leave the CCRC, their units are sold, and the estate receives any remaining balance.

The talks with Skyview were part of a direct effort to reach out to surrounding properties and talk about any concerns they might have about the CCRC, Reingold said.

“We made a specific concerted effort to meet with Skyview because we value them as our neighbor, and wished to reassure them that our latest design does not adversely impact them,” Reingold said. “Specifically, our elevations show that their views will not be obstructed, as our tallest proposed building is a quarter-mile away from their campus, and does not block any residential views.”

The plan Hebrew Home will submit to the city was done with “significant modifications over the years at the behest of community groups, elected officials, neighbors,” Reingold said, which is a “major, major modification to what was originally proposed in 2013.”

Some of the changes include providing access to the proposed Hudson River Greenway, reducing the unit count by more than 250 units, and relocating service roads to move vehicles off Palisade Avenue, Reingold said.

The market would determine the housing prices for a unit, Reingold added.

Construction on the northern parcel won’t require government red tape because that portion already is zoned for higher densities, Reingold said.

“We truly hope we can work together, based upon a mutual respect for one another, as Riverdalians,” Reingold said. “We are all Riverdalians, and we are one single community that must come together and recognize the need for compromise and compassion. Our residents are as integral to the Riverdale community as Skyview to our north or our neighbors to the south.”

Chait agrees all the residents in that area are integral to the community, but he disagrees on Reingold’s approach to support it.

“Our hope is that this petition will help the community board and our elected officials to understand the concerns of the people they represent,” Chait said, “rather than corporate interests.”