from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation 
  March 26, 2008

High Court Upholds Ban on "Dorms for Hire," Saves Landmarked P.S. 64

P.S. 64 CHARAS/El Bohio building at 605 East 9th Street


Dear friend,

I have some wonderful news to report -- yesterday, New York State's highest court upheld a recent New York City rule banning "dorms-for-hire," effectively ending attempts by a developer to erect a 19-story building on the site of the now-landmarked P.S. 64 at 605 East 9th Street in the East Village. GVSHP had joined the East Village Community Coalition (EVCC), Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and many others in fighting hard to uphold the "dorm-for-hire" ban (including submitting amicus briefs in the court case), to block the proposed 19-story dorm, and to preserve the historic former P.S. 64, which had also served as the Charas/El Bohio Cultural Center.

This is a tremendous victory. Not only does it help protect this threatened East Village landmark, but it helps ensure that developers will not be able to abuse zoning regulations by getting the dorm "bulk bonus" the city offers, often allowing dormitories to be almost twice as large as residential buildings, if they have no actual school to occupy the supposed 'dorm.' Many developments GVSHP has fought, such as 159 Bleecker Street (the former Circle in the Square Theater site) and 81 East 3rd Street, got these dorm bonuses to build extra large buildings, but then when they were completed, there was no school to occupy the dorm. These projects never should have been allowed to be built in the first place.

In response to this, in 2005 the City finally put in place rules requiring developers have a 10-year lease from an accredited educational institution before they could get the dorm bonus; GVSHP supported this rule, although we fought for it to be even more restrictive, and we continue to push for elimination of the dorm bonus entirely.

After this rule was passed, the owner of the former P.S. 64 sought to build a 19-story "dorm-for-hire" on the site of this historic building, with no school in place to occupy it. The city denied the permit application on the basis of this rule and subsequently landmarked the building. The owner sued in court to overturn the "dorm-for-hire" ban and claimed that it should now be granted the building permit for the 19-story 'dorm' which he claimed he was wrongly denied before the landmark designation took place. A state court initially agreed, and overturned the ban.

However, in an appeal to the state's highest court, GVSHP, EVCC, and many others submitted amicus briefs in support of the ban, citing the terrible damage which would be done, not just at this site but citywide, if it were overturned. Fortunately the Court of Appeals agreed, and the prior ruling was overturned and the "dorm-for-hire" ban was upheld.


Andrew Berman, Executive Director
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
212/475-9585 x38
232 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10003

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from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

June 21, 2006




Old P.S. 64 Wins Unanimous Landmarks Approval! We are thrilled to report that the old P.S. 64 building at 605 East 9th Street received unanimous approval for landmark designation yesterday from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.  The building faced the threat of demolition by the current owner and replacement with a scheme for a 19-story “dorm-for-hire.”  GVSHP had joined local community groups like the East Village Community Coalition and local leaders like current City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, former City Councilmember Margarita Lopez, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Martin Connor, and many others in opposing the illegal “dorm-for-hire” scheme (which was eventually blocked – CLICK HERE and scroll to page 7 for the article, “Victory Against Trojan Dorms”)  and in pushing for landmark designation of the site


GVSHP was a strong supporter of landmarking the building because of its incredible architectural and cultural significance.  But we also felt it was critical that the LPC stand up to the owner’s threat to scalp the building of all architectural detail if landmark designation was approved (building permits were issued which would allow exterior changes to the building before the landmarking process began).  Now that the building has been designated, it remains to be seen if the owner will follow through on this threat of architectural vandalism.  GVSHP will continue to closely monitor the situation.  CLICK HERE for more information.


To join GVSHP or support our preservation efforts, CLICK HERE.