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