Residents of the Seward Park Cooperative, a 1,746-unit complex on the Lower East Side, will decide on the fate of three new residential projects planned in their vicinity, The Lo-Down first reported.
At the center of all this development is the landmarked Bialystoker Nursing Home, which has now traded hands twice in the last two years. The building first sold to Turtle Bay Partners in the fall of 2015 for just under $18 million. In November last year, The Ascend Group scooped up the landmarked building, along with the two sites on either side of the building for $47.5 million, according to The Lo-Down.
The developer obviously cannot demolish the nursing home, which was landmarked in 2013, but the firm can build tall towers on either side of the Art Deco building. Here’s where the Seward Park residents come in. In order to build taller towers, Ascend needs to purchase air rights from the neighboring co-op.
At present the two sides are in the midst of negotiations whereby the developer would pay Seward Park $46.5 million for 155,000 square feet of air rights. That would allow Ascend to build a 31-story tower on the site to the east of the nursing home, and a 19-story tower to the west.
If the air rights deal falls through, Ascend will build a 26-story tower on the eastern side, which is currently home to a four-story office building. Plans to demolish that building are already moving forward. As for the nursing home—Ascend plans to convert that into luxury condos, according to The Lo-Down (It will have to go through the Landmarks Commission for that).
In order for the air rights sale to be approved, two-thirds of the voting members have to vote in the affirmative when the decision is made towards the end of May or early June this year. Co-op board members have argued that the sale will bring much-needed funds to the co-op amid rising property taxes, but some residents are concerned about the scale of Ascend’s project and about the proposed towers blocking light from some of the co-op’s residences.
The board will make its presentation along with the developers before the vote. Previously, Ascend had tried to purchase the air rights for about $20 million, but the co-op’s appraisal of the rights found the price to be much higher, and Ascend eventually agreed to the higher amount.