The Riverdale Community Coalition is a grassroots coalition formed in January 2013. Today our outreach extends to include hundreds within 13 civic groups from North to South and West to East Riverdale. Our goal is the preservation of our neighborhood in character, context and scale. We originally formed in response to the proposed Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) which will be known as "Rivers Edge" due to it not being compatible to the existing R1 single-family residential zoning and not supporting the goals of the community’s, long-term land use plan, CD 8 2000: A River to Reservoir Preservation Strategy. RiverSpring Health (the CCRC) would be situated in the heart of the Special Natural area District.
Riverdale Community Coalition has worked long and hard over the last five years to preserve the single-family character of our community. So far, with the community’s support, we have been successful in warding off the Hebrew Home’s plan to construct its multi-family apartments "Rivers Edge" in an area, which, after years of struggle, had been protected as a single-family zone. And it still is. Except that it isn’t. Ironically, the text changes that the mayor pushed through under the rubric of Zoning for Quality and Affordability, have become the vehicle which could allow multi-family apartment buildings to be constructed in an otherwise sacrosanct R1-1 district – the multi-million dollar luxury Continuing Care Retirement Community will be known as "Rivers Edge".
The Hebrew Home presented its initial proposal to build multiple-unit apartments for seniors in 2013. The plan at the time was to build 304 apartments, all located on the Passionist property, which would be rezoned from R1-1 to R4. When this proposal drew immediate and widespread community opposition, including from then Councilman Oliver Koppel, the Hebrew Home backed off the zoning change and spent the next 18 months trying to squeeze its plan into some other category of the Zoning Resolution. In the end, the Department of Buildings rejected these efforts. Facing a dead end, the Hebrew Home persuaded City Planning to include in its ZQA amendments a provision allowing apartments in single family residential districts if they were part of a CCRC. As originally issued, this provision would have allowed City Planning to act without any input from the Community Boards and without any opportunity for the City Council to pass judgment on the proposal. As a result of fierce opposition by the Riverdale community, including our organization, this was changed to require a special permit under the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedures (“ULURP”), restoring the roles of the Community Boards and the Council in the review process.
Still, as adopted, the amendments have opened the door to the possibility, at least, of apartments being allowed in single-family residential districts. The plan that the Hebrew Home presented to Community Board 8 in September 2016 rests on the ZQA amendment. It is, however, considerably different from what was proposed in 2013. Instead of the 304 units proposed in the original plan, the Hebrew Home now asks that it be allowed to build a CCRC with 385 units. At the same time, the location of the units has been markedly changed, with approximately 270 apartments to be contained in the new building on the current campus, which, at 12 stories, would be at least 25 feet higher than any existing structure and thus significantly more visible than what is there now. The remaining 117 units would be located on the Passionist site in two new apartment buildings, which, at four and six stories, would be in sharp contrast to the single-family residential homes that surround it on three sides. Some 520 new parking spaces would be built to serve the 385 apartments. This project would set a dangerous precedent for the development of other large institutional properties all over Riverdale. This would forever change the unique character of residential Riverdale and its infrastructure.
We are also committed to protecting the Special Natural Area District, and we value the keystone elements set forth in the 197-a plan, the valuable guidelines that were set forth for good reason less than 10 years ago. Sign the petition to help protect R1zoning from becoming meaningless.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: (The irony is that this CCRC was pushed through by a zoning text amendment in Mayor De Blasios Zoning for Quality and Affordability).
Information obtained from the NYS DOH states that -"The approximate income needed to comfortably afford the smallest one-bedroom independent living apartment is $101,900 based on the proposed monthly service fee. Income qualification assumes seniors utilize 60% of their annual income to afford the monthly service fee. 2021 demographic and economic projections indicate that approximately 5,760 households in the PMA age 75 years and older have sufficient income to comfortably afford the smallest one-bedroom independent living apartment. The approximate annual income needed to afford the smallest two-bedroom independent living apartment is $133,900. Approximately 3,754 households in the PMA age 75 years and older have sufficient annual income to comfortably afford the smallest two-bedroom apartment."