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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hebrew Home expansion stews suspicion

By Sarina Trangle
Posted

The Hebrew Home at Riverdale has so far relied on a strategy of secrecy as it seeks to expand its campus, neighbors say.

A year after the Home bought the 14-acre plot adjacent to its nursing facility, nearby homeowners and the Riverdale Nature Preservancy succeeded in getting an invitation to a guided tour of the grounds. More than 20 neighbors showed up to hear Hebrew Home CEO and President Daniel Reingold and architects from Perkins Eastman discuss their vision for a “green” continuing care retirement community on the property. However, attendees said the main takeaway from the Nov. 1 meeting was that the Hebrew Home wouldn’t be divulging many details.

Last November, the Hebrew Home bought 5801 Palisade Ave. from the Roman Catholic religious order The Passionist Fathers for $16.25 million. In January, Mr. Reingold announced his intentions to construct a low-rise facility on the property, which includes a 116-year-old mansion, a hotel-like three-story retreat house built by the religious order in the 1960s and a handful of other buildings. 

Last January, Mr. Reingold noted underground parking would be included in the six-year project and that the Hebrew Home may build one central entrance for its new and current facilities to alleviate traffic. 

The Hebrew Home didn’t notify most of its neighbors about the tour and many, including Bruce Volpe, found out about the meeting from the Riverdale Nature Preservancy.

Mr. Volpe said the Hebrew Home “insisted” the Preservancy act as a liaison between the community and itself, but didn’t disclose much else.

“The details of the architectural plans, the density, the actual structures and their height, the traffic flow and entries into the new property were not provided,” he wrote in an e-mail. 

Meanwhile, neighbor after neighbor showed up to complain about how the Hebrew Home has urbanized the neighborhood: traffic snarls along Palisade Avenue from West 254th to West 261st streets, trash gathers along the narrow two-way street and ambulance sirens waken families at all hours, they charged.

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