City Issues Dorm Permits for Former PS 64/Charas-El Bohio in East Village, Breaking Own Rules
We are disappointed to report that the NYC Department of Buildings issued permits for a new 'dormitory' at the old PS 64/Charas-El Bohio Cultural Center at 605 East 9th Street (Avenues A/B) over the objections of GVSHP and many community groups, elected officials, and the local community board. Perhaps most disturbingly, the permits seem to have been issued in violation of the City's own rules regarding student dormitories -- rules passed several years ago after significant agitation by community groups and elected officials to prevent more developers from claiming to include dormitories in developments just to get permits to build.
But last week, in spite of these strict new rules, the City issued permits for the conversion of much of this landmarked building to a dormitory, supposedly for use by Cooper Union and the Joffrey Ballet. However, the terms of the arrangement do not appear to meet the standards for a long-term lease or for an accredited educational institution. Additionally, it has long been the wishes of the community to see this building -- which served as a public school before being converted into the revered Charas-El Bohio Cultural Center -- returned to a true community use. Mayor Giuliani closed the cultural center and sold the building to a developer more than a decade ago, and it has sat in limbo as the developer first sought to demolish it (thwarted by the building being given landmark status) and replace it with successive plans for dorm developments.
GVSHP is working closely with a coalition of community groups, elected officials, and the community board to oppose the City's decision, uphold our hard-fought-for dorm rules, and see the building returned to a true community use.
HOW TO HELP:
Time To Move on Landmarking the South Village Phase III
GVSHP has reached out to the new Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) Chair and Mayor de Blasio to urge that they move on landmarking the third and final phase of GVSHP's proposed South Village Historic District -- the area south of Houston Street which the prior administration and LPC Chair refused to landmark. Landmarks designation of this historically rich neighborhood is supported by every local elected official representing the area, the local community board, and nearly every block or civic association and institution located there. In late 2013, GVSHP got this area and the rest of the South Village placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and in 2012 this and the rest of the South Village was named one of "Seven to Save" by the Preservation League of NY State -- one of the seven most endangered, historically significant sites in New York State.
This final section of the South Village is very much threatened; in just the last few years we have seen the demolition of historically significant early 19th century houses at 186 Spring Street and 54 MacDougal Street, one of New York's earliest Art Deco buildings, the Tunnel Garage, and a host of other 19th and early 20th century structures. We have also recently seen a huge spate of out-of-scale high-rise construction going up in this neighborhood, which is otherwise almost uniformly composed of three to six story buildings.
This area, phase III of GVSHP's proposed South Village Historic District, contains an almost entirely intact 19th and early 20th century New York City cityscape, with incredible connections to New York's last great wave of immigration. St. Anthony of Padua Church, the oldest extant Italian-American church, and a series of model tenements built by the Citizen's Investing Corporation for immigrants, among many other beautiful and compelling sites, are found within its boundaries.
HOW TO HELP:
Affordable Housing and Preservation Roundtable Sept. 16
In recent months, the real estate lobby has tried to attack and undermine landmarking and preservation, claiming it runs counter to efforts to address New York City's housing affordability crisis. Ironically, these claims come from the exact group which has lobbied heavily for many of the policies which have contributed most profoundly to our city's affordability problems.
Join GVSHP, the Historic Districts Council, and the New School's Center for New York City Affairs for a roundtable discussion aimed at taking back the dialogue about affordable housing from the self-interested real estate lobby. We'll hear directly from advocates and government officials about the obstacles to affordability in New York City, and the real relationships between affordability and preservation.
Panelists include Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Harvey Epstein, Project Director of the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center and NYC Rent Guidelines Board Member; Nadine Maleh, Director of the Inspiring Places program at Community Solutions; and Rachel Meltzer, Assistant Professor of Urban Policy at The New School. The discussion will be moderated by GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman.
The program takes place on Tuesday, September 16th from 6 to 8 pm at the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center at Arnhold Hall, The New School, 55 West 13th Street, rm. I202. It is free and open to the public, but space is limited and reservations are required. Click here for more information and a list of co-sponsoring groups, and here to register.