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New Threat to Old P.S. 64/Charas, 605 East 9th Street

GVSHP has long been part of a community coalition fighting to preserve the historic former P.S. 64/Charas-El Bohio Cultural Center at 605 East 9th Street, just east of Avenue B.  This building is not only a treasured piece of our city’s history and a monumental work of architecture, but for two decades served as a vital community and cultural center before it was sold by New York City to a developer around 2000.  It has sat vacant since, as the developer has tried time and again to tear the building down, destroy its architectural features, and move undesirable uses into the building, including several schemes for a “dorm for hire,” where beds could be rented out to anyone claiming to be a student.  GVSHP and our community allies want to see the building restored and returned to a true community use.

We have two strong tools in that fight.  In 2005 we helped get the building landmarked.  A deed restriction on the property from the City limits uses here to “community facilities,” and a few years later we helped get the City to tighten up rules around dormitories in New York City, making it much harder for developers to sneak in “dorms for hire” or other uses disguised as legitimate dormitories.

But the developer owner is seeking to get around the restrictive declaration and the tighter rules we helped fight for years ago and sneak in illegitimate uses.  He has hired the same lobbyist involved in the scandalous lifting of the deed restriction for the nearby Rivington House.  Rather than get the City to lift the deed restriction as was done there, he is seeking to get the City to redefine the restrictions on dorms that apply to this and other sites, to make it easier to sneak in illegal “dorms for hire” and to do work on the building without required documentation and commitments in place.  The City has issued a preliminary ruling in favor of the developer’s request, which has far-reaching implications not only for this property but others throughout the City. Read more here.



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