Jewish Home and Upper West Side Reach Compromise

If there is one boat you do not want to rock, it is an Upper West Side community board, particularly after its members have spent more than a year developing a detailed plan to keep their neighborhood more or less the way it is.

The Jewish Home & Hospital, a nursing home on 106th Street, felt that it had no choice apparently but to rock that boat when it sought a last-minute exception to that plan. In order to survive, the nonprofit said that it needed to sell off part of its property to a private developer and use the proceeds to build a more modern headquarters and nursing facilities on the remaining portion.

Even with a powerful healthcare union rooting for them, and some sympathetic politicians who tried to see their side, Jewish Home had to scale back its ambitions. On Monday, up-to-the-last-minute negotiations gave them an extra 30 feet on their own headquarters. But the companion building, which a private developer will build, will essentially have to abide by the new Upper West Side rezoning.

The rezoning passed a City Council subcommittee and committee unanimously, according to City Council Member Tony Avella. chairman of the zoning and franchises subcommittee, with the Jewish Home property, between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, grandfathered in with the old zoning. It will go back to the City Planning Commission before going to the City Council and the mayor for final approvals.

However, a separate covenant that will be filed against the property’s deed will restrict the height of the private developer’s parcel to 120 feet (compared to 145 feet as first sought) and the height of its own building to 150 feet (instead of 175 feet), according to City Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito, who represents the area.

“The community board felt that the whole reason they wanted this rezoning was to prevent overzealous developers from coming into the neighborhood and changing its character,” she said. “But there was also a general consensus that a community facility like the nursing home, there was more of an acceptance of letting them build a little bit higher than the height limit.”