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Final Hebrew Home conclusion? Nine stories for tallest building

CB8 expected to vote Monday night

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With no one on Community Board 8 yet asked to officially take a side, a last-minute compromise might make Monday's vote much easier when it comes to expansion plans for the Hebrew Home at Riverdale. 

Negotiations concluded Friday with Hebrew Home agreeing to reduce its tallest proposed structure from 10 stories to nine, according to documents obtained by The Riverdale Press. That would likely reduce the number of units for Hebrew Home's proposed continuing care retirement community from the 388 originally introduced — likely a bittersweet pill for the Palisade Avenue institution that's depending on New York City's first CCRC to keep it viable as a nonprofit. 

Original plans had Hebrew Home building a 12-story structure on its north campus on Palisade, just south of the College of Mount Saint Vincent, with two buildings on its south campus — formerly a Passionist Retreat center — of four and six stories each.

With considerable opposition from neighbors surrounding them — ranging from the single-family homes to its south and the 20-plus story towers of Skyview-on-the-Hudson to its east — Hebrew Home agreed to reduce the height of all three buildings by one story each on the south campus, and two stories for its tallest building.

Officials from Hebrew Home have yet to return a request for comment early Monday. 

Charles Moerdler, chair of the land use committee that heard the Hebrew Home proposal, said when reached Monday that "no one was completely happy" in the negotiations.

"But the community as a whole benefitted, and the good work that the Hebrew Home has performed so well for decades can, hopefully, now continue," Moerdler said.

But there still might be some work to do, at least according to one of the de facto leaders of the neighbors opposing the project, Martin Zelnik.

"Both sides have been deeply immersed throughout the weekend in trying to find a reasonable middle ground," Zelnik told The Press in an email Monday afternoon. "When we think we are very close to a compromise, the (Hebrew Home) negotiating tem adds some details that were not previously agreed to."

Yet, Zelnik and his colleagues said they expect to have a written proposal "in the hands of all parties concerned" by the start of the Monday meeting.

The CCRC is an added step to late-life care, which allows individuals and couples to "buy in" to independent living while still having access to in-home health care. Buy-in costs for Hebrew Home's CCRC is expected to run between $400,000 and $1.2 million, plus a monthly services fee running several thousand dollars.

Hebrew Home chief executive Daniel Reingold has maintained in the past, however, that these costs are consistent with a middle class couple selling a home they've paid off over the decades, where all their medical coverage will be guaranteed for the rest of their lives. 

On top of that, a large percentage of the buy-in is refunded to the resident's estate when they die.

The land use committee is expected to meet ahead of tonight's regular CB8 meeting, set to convene at 6:30 p.m., at American Legion Post 774 on Corlear Avenue. The regular meeting will start an hour later, where the final vote is expected to take place.

This won't be the final stop for the Hebrew Home, however. CB8's vote is just advisory, and it will still need citywide approvals, including one from city council, in the coming weeks. 

This story was updated at 2:43 p.m., to include comment from Martin Zelnik.

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