Skyview residents want Hebrew Home plan nixed

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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.”

Comments

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NYC Developer

Wait until residents see what is planned on Riverdale Ave (261 street) and down 261 street.

HINT . . possibly

Homeless shelter / low income housing

RACISM is why they are against the Hebrew home as Sky View was at one time mostly welfare and why not ask the Sky View board of directors which NON licensed / NON insured person was changing their shower body valves about 7-8 years ago

Tuesday, September 19
Myra Fasner

I am a Skyview shareholder. I have lived in Skyview as a retiree for the past 3-1/2 years. I am opposed to the plan that the Hebrew Home presented to CB Board #8 last Fall. I attended that meeting and remember the presentation. I have a few comments to the story above written by Ms. Herndon and to the details of the proposed development as ascribed to Mr. Reingold in that article. My comments are as follows:

Skyview shareholders and tenants are not opposed to the Hebrew Home building a CCRC. What we object to is the HH building in violation of the zoning regulations that have been in place for the past 10 years and which were put in place after 10 years of hard work by Riverdale community organizations, such as the Riverdale Preservancy and the Riverdale Coalition. The zoning was fought for and obtained to protect our beautiful community with its magnificent and stately trees, its rock formations, and the birds and other wild inhabitants of our community. From looking at the HH complex from my windows, it is clear that the HH cut down tens of dozens of trees to build. If the HH is successful in obtaining permission to violate these zoning laws, Riverdale will not be the only protected community to suffer. It will lead other developers to seek to build on other protected areas in New York City. I moved from Manhattan to Riverdale because I did not want to live in a city with concrete, glass and steel. The HH proposal will give us exactly that with their 12 story building--concrete glass and steel. Most of my fellow Skyview residents (over 5,000) agree with me.

As for Mr. Reingold's "assurance" that his project will not interfere with Skyview's views, let me say that the buildings that exist now already interfere with our views. Their main building does not (although it is not what I would like to see when I look out my windows), but the two buildings directly south of their main building, are several stories above the tree line--which is not permitted under the regulations adopted 10 years ago. In addition to the 12 stories Mr. Reingold proposes, would be two stories of HVAC. Right now I also view the HVAC of the two buildings directly south of the main building. It is not what I paid a premium price for when I purchased my apartment. the HH already has a huge presence on Riverdale Avenue. From my window I can see some 5-7 buildings south of the main building and there are a couple of others that I can see from my neighbor's windows, not mine.

But that is not our reason for opposition, our opposition is the LAND USE issue. Why should the HH make money by building on protected land while I and my fellow shareholders lose money on our apartments? Is that fair? We have over 700 seniors now living at Skyview. Many of these seniors, including me, put our life savings into these apartments and cannot afford to see our property values decline so that the HH can make money. Let them build wherever and whatever they want to build and we will have no objection, as long as what they build, and where they build is not in violation of zoning regulations to protect our beautiful community..

The cost of the HH proposed units and who would occupy them is problematic. As stated in this article, the buy in cost for an apartment (depending on its location in the building, its view, the services offered by the location (concierge services), size of balcony, etc.) will determine the buy-in fee and the month maintenance. These were listed in the FOIL documents as $750K to $1.35M, and maintenance at $8000 to $8500 monthly, with an additional charge of $800 monthly for a spouse, roommate, partner, etc. The one cost that was not detailed in the article was the cost for the eventual medical care the resident would receive. The FOIL documents say that the HH had not decided on that cost. This article quotes Mr. Reingold as saying that it would come out of the buy-in fee and that what was left would eventually be returned to the family. That is not what the FOIL documents say. In addition, the FOIL documents say that the HH's target population includes seniors 75 and older who have sold their $650K home and can afford to move to the HH facility. The FOIL documents also say that the larget population would come from the Bronx, Westchester and New Jersey! Why do we in NYC have to roll over for Westchester and New Jersey? In addition, the HH will be disposing of some 250 beds in the nursing home (medicaid patients?) to build this facility and is looking to add 300 more CCRC beds in the future. I wonder what that plan will include and where they would build that facility. I also wonder where they will send the patients who are still alive when they get rid of their 250 beds.

So, now you hear the side of a resident of Skyview. I have written against this proposal before and got a very nasty response from Mr. Reingold. Let's see what he says this time. Riverdale Press, I suggest you also obtain the FOIL documents. They will be very enlightening.

In conclusion, as I said very early on in this comment, I am sure that Skyview will be happy to approve a further revised HH plan that is fully in accordance with Riverdale's current zoning regulations. That would be fair to both sides and the right thing to do for all of NYC.

Sunday, October 1
Sylvester Maldando

I agree with Myra. Hebrew Home says what they want and does what they please. Regardless of building heights the traffic alone including large delivery trucks at 5 am is no way to live. I have heard Mr Reingold and his people talk. They are not truthful. Their profits and fat salaries over our neighborhood. We are not all Riverdalians Mr Reingold. You don’t live here. If you did you would think and act differently. Not in our backyard!

Tuesday, October 3
Pat Harper

NYC DEVELOPER (obviously not willing to sign your name to your slander), opposition to this proposed violation of zoning regulations is not racist. In fact, that might be the least intelligent thing ever said about this issue, so we will give you only our pity and will proceed to ignore you.

Thursday, October 5
Pat Harper

To propose to have the existing zoning regulations that all have adhered to for many years, waived for a project that will benefit such a small number of individuals is an example of the "I've gotten mine and everyone else be damned" attitude that flies in the face of any sort of ethical construct. There is an attempt to frame this issue as opposition to the facility being built. That is not the case. The facility would be welcomed, or at least ignored, if we did not have to donate our public resource to the developers so that they can make enough of a profit. Opposition exists because an attempt is being made to take a public resource and to diminish it for the personal gain of a particular interest. The developers certainly have options on where and how to construct a facility. The fact that it might be less profitable to follow the regulations is not cause for the rest of us to grant a waiver to enrich someone else at the expense of all of us. If a plan that adheres to the regulations cannot be built while providing enough of a profit for the developer, then they can either modify their plan or abandon it. The astonishingly transparent attempt to portray the plan as contributing to the community would be laughable if it were not actually being presented as their position.

In order to be permitted, it is my opinion that our elected officials would have to be involved in some sort of bribery or kickback process and, since I do not in any way believe that they would allow themselves to sell their integrity in that way, I do not expect this waiver to be granted.

Should this waiver somehow be granted, rest assured that there are many individuals and organizations that will make it their mission to expose whatever quid pro quo was involved. In this day and age of information access, that can no longer be hidden and the repercussions to the elected officials and their families would be devastating.

Sincerely,

Pat Harper

(As a side note, understand that the proposed facility would not affect my view at all. I rise to speak against the waiver of the existing, agreed upon zoning regulations on behalf of our precious neighborhood.)

Thursday, October 5