Hundreds Rally & 'Stomp' To Save the Village From NYU 2031
Thanks to everyone who turned out for yesterday's rally to save our parks from the NYU 2031 expansion plan, including Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Public Advocate Tish James, State Senators Brad Hoylman and Daniel Squadron, former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, Community Board #2, NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan and all our co-plaintiffs in our lawsuit. Thanks also to the cast of STOMP, who performed, and to Tony Award-winning actress Kathleen Chalfant, who spoke in support of our efforts, as well as the hundreds of neighbors, residents, and supporters who attended. See photos from the rally here and the press release here.
In January, Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills ruled in our favor, finding the City had illegally given away parkland to NYU for its plan, effectively blocking much of the project. However, the City and the University are appealing the decision, which had its first hearing in court on Wednesday. It will likely be several weeks or even months before a decision comes down in the case.
While not surprised that NYU has continued to ignore the concerns of the surrounding community, as well as its own faculty, staff, and students, who have expressed vocal opposition to the plan, we are disappointed that Mayor de Blasio has chosen to side with the university thus far and appeal the judge’s ruling, rather than bring NYU back to the negotiating table to come up with a plan that would really work for the Village, the city, and the university. However, it is not too late for the Mayor to change course and do the right thing.
HOW TO HELP:
Big Victory in P.S. 64/Charas Dorm Fight!
We are thrilled to report that the Department of Buildings has reversed its previous ruling and issued a stop work order and notice of intent to revoke permits for the conversion of the former P.S. 64/Charas-El Bohio Cultural Center at 605 East 9th Street (Avenues B/C) to a dormitory! This is an enormous victory not only for this landmarked building and the East Village, but for all who care about ensuring that developers are not allowed to sidestep hard fought for rules that protect against bogus developments disguised as 'dorms' to get special treatment under our zoning regulations.
Special thanks go to Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who has helped lead this fight, as well as all the community groups, other elected officials, and community board members whom GVSHP has worked alongside to protect the old P.S. 64, prevent the violation of the 'dorm rule,' and see this landmarked former cultural center returned to a true community use. Thanks also to everyone who answered our call to send letters to Mayor de Blasio urging him to reverse the Department of Buildings’ decision in this case -- your voice was heard!
The old P.S. 64 was one of the grandest and most innovative public schools designed by the great New York City public school architect CBJ Snyder in 1906. After being shuttered and abandoned by the city in 1977, local activists turned the school into the renowned Charas/El Bohio Cultural Center, an innovative community/cultural center which nurtured the East Village arts scene and helped launch the careers of some of the greatest actors, performers, and producers to emerge from this vital milieu. However, in 1998 Mayor Giuliani sold the building to a private developer and Charas was evicted in 2001. The building has remained empty since then as the developer has sought to demolish the building and replace it with a high-rise dorm. When the building was being considered for landmarking in 2006, the developer/owner rushed to destroy distinctive architectural ornament on the building's façade in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to prevent designation (read the landmark designation report here). Now the developer is seeking to convert the landmarked building to a 'dorm,' though GVSHP and many others have argued that the terms of that agreement violate the requirements for a dorm. The City appears to, at this juncture, agree with our contention.
However, the battle to preserve the old P.S. 64, prevent it from being turned into a 'dorm,' and see it returned to a true community use continues.
HOW TO HELP:
- Join City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, GVSHP, allied community groups and elected officials this Sunday at 1pm for a rally/press conference at old P.S. 64, 605 E. 9th Street (Avenues A/B), celebrating our victory, and calling for a return of this precious landmarked building to a true community use
Big Turnout, Big Ideas At Affordable Housing + Preservation Plan
Last week's roundtable discussion on affordable housing and preservation drew a standing-room only crowd, and lots of viewers to the live, on-line web broadcast. Moderated by GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman, panelists included Hon. Gale Brewer; Manhattan Borough President; Councilmember Rosie Mendez, former Chair of the NYC Council Public Housing Committee; 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. These experts in the field had a lot to say about how we can keep New York City affordable while also preserving the scale and character of our neighborhoods, giving lie to the Real Estate Board of New York and the developer lobby's pernicious claim that affordability and preservation are at odds.
There were many interesting moments in the evening, including when the panelists were asked if they were aware of any case where preservation prevented affordable housing from being built or resulted in the loss of existing affordable housing. The unanimous answer: "No." Read the report on the panel from The Villager here.
Special thanks to our co-sponsors the Historic Districts Council, and The New School Center for New York City Affairs for hosting and co-sponsoring.
You can watch the video of the entire discussion on our YouTube page here. Click here for videos of other past GVSHP programs, here for all other GVSHP videos, and here for a list of upcoming GVSHP programs.