An unexpected alliance between a powerful developer and a neighborhood retirement home is causing an uproar in the Manhattan Valley section of the famously ornery Upper West Side.
Enigmatic developer Joseph Chetrit and Jewish Home Lifecare, which has a campus at 120 West 106th Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, have decided to swap properties.
In exchange for its 106th Street campus, the retirement home will receive both cash and the right to develop a 22-story replacement retirement home atop a parking lot within Mr. Chetrit’s Park West Village on 100th Street. Mr. Chetrit, in turn, will get the right to build luxury condominiums on one of the most desirable sites in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Manhattan.
The reason for the uproar is rooted in the history of the 106th Street campus itself.
Back in 2007, Upper West Side community groups, appalled by the erection of Extell’s 37-story and 31-story Ariel East and West condos at 100th Street and Broadway, succeeded in down-zoning much of the neighborhood to prevent future tall developments. At the time, the Jewish Home requested a special carve-out, or exemption, from the down-zoning, arguing that it needed to retain development rights in order to remain viable. The community board granted the Jewish Home’s request.
The Jewish Home’s original plan was to bid out a portion of its campus to a developer, and thereby subsidize the creation of a new retirement home on the existing site.
And then came the credit crunch, that greatest of party crashers.