Nursing Home to Negotiate Exemption

An Upper West Side community board is planning to sit down with executives from a nonprofit nursing home to hash out a compromise between its plan for two mid-rise towers and a rezoning that would otherwise cap building heights at a maximum of 120 feet.

The move comes late in a nearly two-year process inspired by the sudden and unexpected construction of two towers, one 31 stories and the other 37, along Broadway near 100th Street. In a plan that has emerged in varying degrees over the past six months, Jewish Home and Hospital wants to replace its campus on 106th street with a 175-foot building, which it will occupy, and a 145-foot privately developed building, which would raise money for the nonprofit’s survival.

“It is very unfortunate that we are where we are now but we have to rise to the occasion and try to reach a resolution that the City Council can support and that allows the Jewish Home to build what it needs to serve the community, and at the same time is close to what the rezoning planned for that area would have produced,” said Shelly Fine, the community board chairman.

The Jewish Home and Hospital said that the buildings would have been permitted under existing zoning and that it did not have plans approved by the state Department of Health until last December.

“We look forward to working with those requests,” said Bruce Nathanson, senior vice president for marketing and communications for the nursing home.

The letter suggests that the nursing home reduce the bulk of the privately developed tower and reduce the height of its own tower, according to Ethel Sheffer, an urban planner and chairwoman of the community board’s West Side Rezoning Task Force.

The negotiations will have to move fast. According to Melissa Mark Viverito, the Councilwoman representing Manhattan Valley, Mr. Avella’s subcommittee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the matter Sept. 17; the Land Use committee will vote the next day, with a full City Council vote following shortly thereafter. Generally, the City Council follows the lead of the local council member.

Ms. Viverito said she does not have a position right now because she is trying to “facilitate conversation.”

“The fact they did not play a role is something they acknowledge and something they should acknowledge as a real problem,” she said of the Jewish Home and Hospital. “At the same time, there are other greater issues in regards to the jobs that JHH provides and the services they provide [that should be taken into account].”