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Friday, October 31, 2014

Hebrew Home expansion open for discussion

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The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is revamping the housing and services it offers at its enlarged Palisade Avenue campus — hoping to create New York City’s first “continuing care retirement community” — and it has invited its neighbors to take a peek at its plans during two “Charette working sessions.”

 “You’ll have the opportunity to have a meaningful dialogue… and provide valuable input into key aspects of the project,” according to its ad in last week’s Riverdale Press.

At a Jan. 15 public planning meeting to prepare for the charette at the home of Riverdale Nature Preservancy board member Elizabeth Haase, people expressed serious objections to the plan. 

More than three-dozen Preservancy members, Community Board 8 members, neighbors of the home, elected officials and their representatives showed up to the meeting. 

They applauded when Preservancy president Paul Elston told them that the Home was offering access to the proposed Hudson River Greenway through the property, but still expressed concerns about the Home’s application for a zoning change from R1-1 to R4 to allow for far greater density on the 14-acre site of the Passionist Retreat House — next door to the Home’s existing campus — which it purchased in November 2011. 

As part of a comprehensive planning effort that took years to implement at the beginning of the 2000s, CB 8 sought, and won, the R1-1 designation with the intent of limiting density in a section of Riverdale’s Special Natural Area District. The district is characterized by steep slopes, rock outcroppings, stately trees and single family homes.

Several speakers at the meeting were alarmed that the Home had moved so quickly to solidify its scheme to build four mid-rise apartment buildings on a podium of underground parking on the site. What, they wondered, was left undecided for their input?

The working sessions will be held Mondays, Jan. 28 and Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. at the Hebrew Home, located at 5901 Palisade Ave. 

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