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WSJ- Nursing Home to Get New Style, Site

December 20 / 2011 


December 20, 2011

Nursing Home to Get New Style, Site


Plans for a pioneering nursing home designed to offer senior citizens greater independence are poised to move forward now that a controversial land swap on the Upper West Side has closed.

Jewish Home Lifecare will build a 24-story nursing home at 97th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, which will use a model for elder care that combines new approaches to design and staffing.

The model eschews long institutional corridors and shared rooms, in favor of small pods with private rooms that are designed to feel more like typical homes. The staffing model also differs, with the same two nursing assistants dedicated to each apartment cluster, performing cooking, light housekeeping and facilitating board games and other recreational activities.

The deal also could turn into a coup for a partnership of Joseph Chetrit with Larry Gluck's Stellar Management, which owns the new property for the Jewish Home on 97th Street. In return, the developers will receive Jewish Home's four-building campus that occupies much of the block between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues on 106th Street, as well as a 126-year-old building on West 105th Street.

Jewish Home will receive $35 million from the developers, said people familiar with the matter. It's unclear what the Chetrit-led partnership plans for the massive 106th Street site. A spokesman confirmed the deal's closing, but said that Mr. Chetrit won't begin construction until the new Jewish Home facility is completed in 2017.

The new Jewish Home facility will use a care-giving approach based on what's known as the "Green House" model, which has 29 current projects and another 25 in development. But most of those are ranch houses or townhouses in low-lying, suburban communities, where the costs of building a sprawling facility are significantly lower.

"This is taller and bigger than anything we've done before," says Robert Jenkens, director of the national Green House Project, a nonprofit partnership that oversees the model pioneered by physician Bill Thomas.

Jewish Home has faced enormous hurdles squeezing the space-intensive model into Manhattan's high-rise environment.The nursing home's existing campus was constructed largely in the 1960s in the classic hospital model with long corridors and shared rooms.


In 2007, Jewish Home put out a request for proposals from developers, to whom they offered to sell a portion of the site so that they could take the money and build a new facility.


The nursing home received 70 meaningful proposals from developers, but soon the recession hit and lending for new development projects quickly dried up. The number of interested developers quickly dwindled to 10 and finally to only one.