housing

Manhattan Seniors Pushed Out as Building Goes Up for Sale

The Riverview building for seniors in Hell's Kitchen, on Dec. 10, 2019.
The Riverview building for seniors in Hell’s Kitchen, on Dec. 10, 2019. Photo: Rachel Holliday Smith/THE CITY

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Dozens of elderly tenants in Hell’s Kitchen may soon be facing homelessness after management announced their building will be sold in the new year.

The 31 residents at Riverview Senior Independent Living on West 49th Street near 10th Avenue were told last week they would have to move as the building owner and operator, the nonprofit Institute for Children Poverty and Homelesness, searched for a buyer.

At the 15-story residence Tuesday, nothing looked amiss in the lobby, cheerfully decorated with a Christmas tree, garland and white lights. But outside, one tenant, who declined to give his name, said he and his neighbors were “shocked” by the news.

“They were vague,” he said of the building reps who met with residents on Dec. 3. “They said the property would be sold and it would happen sometime in the next few months.”

Linda Bazerjian, a spokesperson for the Riverview owners, confirmed the building will go on the market in the new year, but said there’s no firm date for when residents have to clear out.

The Institute made the decision to sell, Bazerjian said, for financial reasons: After two years in operation, only about a third of the Riverview’s 80 units had been filled.

“We have been working at a deficit,” despite an extensive marketing campaign, she said.

When the decision to sell was made, she said the nonprofit “wanted to make sure that folks knew as soon as possible.”

“We actually could have held back and waited until after the holidays, but with something like this, you do want to give people as much time as possible,” she said.

Relocate to Staten Island?

The Riverview owner has operated another senior residence, Island Shores, on Staten Island for about 20 years. Bazerjian said the group is working with tenants on West 49th Street who may want to move there after the sale.

The Riverview’s difficulty finding tenants does not jibe with the demand for senior housing elsewhere in the city. New York is going through an acute shortage of housing for elderly people, and experts project the crisis will deepen as the Baby Boomer generation ages.

Residents said the Riverview was relatively affordable for a senior independent living facility that offers services like housekeeping, laundry, daily meals and social activities, but no medical care or nursing. Bazerjian said rent for apartments there starts at about $3,000 a month.

Elected officials representing the Hell’s Kitchen area, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, are working to get more information about the pending closure and to help the soon-to-be-displaced tenants.

“This city desperately needs more housing for seniors, not less. That is true in my district and all over the five boroughs,” Johnson said in a statement. “I will do everything I can to protect my neighbors who call Riverview home.”

Rosenthal said she has “a lot of questions” about the sale — and what will happen to tenants.

“This is very scary for seniors who depend on things — the meals and the housekeeping — who are told, you’re going to have to just leave,” Rosenthal said.

At the Riverview, the tenant who spoke with THE CITY said neighbors have been looking for places to live since learning about the sale. But, he added, many “don’t have other options.”

“It’s very hard to find senior housing,” he said.

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