Monday, January 9, 2017

Community meeting set as dorm plans continue moving forward at the former PS 64

There are recently disclosed new developments in the works at the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center as developer Gregg Singer remains committed to converting the long-empty building that extends from Ninth Street to 10th Street between Avenue B and Avenue C into dorms. (Singer bought the formerly city-owned building in 1998 for $3.15 million.)

According to the Greenwich Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP):

[Singer] 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.

Last June, The Commercial Observer reported that Madison Realty Capital provided a $44 million loan to Singer’s Singer Financial Corporation to recapitalize a dorm.

In past years, the Joffrey Ballet and Cooper Union were attached to the project.

Now, as The Villager reported on Dec. 26, the new "anchor tenant" is Adelphi University, which has an outpost at 75 Varick St. Singer reportedly signed a lease with the school this past August.

The Schedule A on file with the DOB shows that the Adelphi students would be on the second and third floors of the building... while the fourth and fifth would remain unoccupied for the time being...

The lobbyist in question is Jim Capalino, a former Mayor de Blasio ally. As Politico noted, Capalino and his staffers have a knack for getting what they want for their clients.

Capalino has been working on behalf of Singer's LLC since April 2014. Here's more from The Villager:

Records from the Lobbying Bureau of the Office of the City Clerk show that from January 2015 to December 2016, 9th & 10th L.L.C. made three payments to James F. Capalino and Associates for a total of roughly $227,000. The first payment was for $30,000, with the “target” being the Department of Buildings, and the purpose being for “determination regarding real property.” The second was for $86,666, with the targets listed as D.O.B., along with “councilmembers and community boards,” with the intended purpose stated as “aiding the client in seeking various approvals for its property.” The third payment was for $120,000, with the target again D.O.B. and the purpose only listed as “non-procurement.”

The landmarked building has sat empty since 2001, when Singer reportedly evicted CHARAS, the cultural and community center. Through the years, preservationists, community groups and local elected officials have been successful in opposing Singer's various plans, including a 23-story megadorm. At the same time, there has been a movement to return the building to use as a cultural and community center.

There's a community meeting on Jan. 18 to discuss the latest developments at the former PS 64 ...

The meeting is 6:30 p.m. on the 18th at Loisaida, Inc., 710 E. Ninth St. near Avenue C (next to Ninth Street Espresso if that helps).

Previously on EV Grieve:
Rebranded P.S. 64 up for grabs: Please welcome University House at Tompkins Square Park to the neighborhood

Deed for 'community facility use only' at the former P.S. 64 now on the market

Efforts continue to fight the dorm planned for the former PS 64 on East 9th Street

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approves application for modifications at PS 64

'Misinformation' cited as DOB issues Stop Work Order at the former PS 64; community meeting set for Sunday afternoon

Development drama continues at the former P.S. 64, where the city approved dorm-conversion permits (again)

[Updated] The former P.S. 64 appears to be for sale

The latest PS 64 debacle: Investors sue Gregg Singer


  1. I don't see a rational argument for more dorm space in this neighborhood. The developers are the predators and we are the prey.

  2. Capalino again involved in a deed restricted property???!!, just like Rivington House? The mayor has to stop this now, and work on a community center plan for that site. A dorm is clearly not a community use...

  3. The mayor has to stop this? You are kidding, right. He is behind it!

    We so badly need a community hub that provides inexpensive space and events. The nabe has been turned into a drinking den with high-priced restaurants and no culture.

  4. Singer knows a dorm won't work. He wants to get something built, rip off more partners in "maintenance" deals, and then say "hey the dorms fell through" and go market rate housing / condos / retail. Given the competence of the crew he had doing the demolition a few years back he better have a huge slush fund to bribe his way to a C of O. If he does get that far.

  5. Will be interested to see if the Mayor tries to redeem himself from the Rivington/Capalino scandal by stepping in here to make the developer follow the law. My bet is no.

  6. How can we stop this? Ideas? The last thing we need is a dorm here. The neighborhood has already been taken over by students.

  7. Let's just complain for another 20 years while the now eyesore continues to be left in an abandoned state. A community center is not happening - it is too big for that.

  8. @11:21am: "How can we stop this?" You can go to GVSHP's website and writing letters, etc. as they suggest.

  9. Students. How dare they need a place to stay while they get an education! If you don't want them in your building and you don't want them in a dorm, then where?

  10. It feels like the community is fighting this alone.WHERE ARE OUR POLITICIANS?! WE ELECTED THEM. But sad to say the Party controls them. Email. Call their offices. FIND OUT WHERE THEY STAND! We re the dumping ground for colleges and students. Nobody wants them. But the city sees us for what we've become... a playpen for the Frat-rats of the city. Bus garages and garbage transfer stations have to be spread out throughout the city become of "race inequality" issues. Well you could add "Dorms" to that list. We must have 20 already. No other community in the city has as many. THIS HAS TO STOP!

  11. It's too big for a community center? Alright dude. But not too big for random ass new people to use for their own profits? Fuck outta here wit that. These things are written in law for a reason. They can't just be overturned when someone decides they can make more money on it. There are enough dorm spaces and enough students infiltrating in the past decade or so.

  12. It is not too big for a community center. Use your imagination - school, elder care, adult education, art workspace and gallery, dance studio, yoga, gym, performance space, after school student activities, etc. This is what it's for and everyone would benefit, not just a few students who have to trek 2 miles to Soho for their classes.

  13. How many community spaces do we need? Who will pay to covert this long-abandoned school into usable space or to support the arts groups that would use the space? We do need housing. Let the city charge Singer the market rate for changing the deed and use that money to build housing for those who are without elsewhere in the city. The scandal of Irvington House is not that it was taken away from an outdated use (in patient facilities for AIDS patients who now, thankfully and more humanely, can be treated on an out patient basis), but that the City didn't get the fair price for the transformation.

  14. What's this talk that it's too big to be a community center? It WAS a community center before Giuliani had it sold like so many other community spaces. It was a vibrant community center at that. The current owner should be forced to sell it back to the city, which should then return it to its former glory.

  15. I have an idea

  16. Charas was a community arts building, prior to the Giuliani administrations sale. Im not seeing a call for a prevention of NYU and other institutions from using the city as a means for attracting out of town students to an over priced schooling, especially NYU - (that issue alone is a months long series of debates), but consider it a good reason to use Charas as something other than a dorm space. There is a need for more community creative and cultural space to be established. The E.Village is losing it's historic allure, a place of left politics and creative forces to merge and create positive change in the city and the world. It is a mandate from Washington,D.C. that we need to be resolved to maintain our vigilance. Don't lie down about this issue.

  17. How about a hospital ? Our neighborhood needs one and if run properly can be profitable for the owners.

  18. A school, a hospital, community and art groups -- all of these. Yes.

  19. I live on this block and have been trying to figure out a reasonable resolve for this political quagmire of an issue. I'm wondering if this may be a viable idea that serves all parties (residents, owner and college): I just looked into Adelphi and they have a school of social work. What if 2 floors of this building were for students in that major and the other 2 floors were a community center that the students managed/maintained for credit; thus making community support and outreach equal hands-on experience/class credit for them (and a selling point for the school). The neighborhood gets fewer, yet more engaged students who care about the people and community, Adelphi gets housing and something to brag about, we get a community center, and Singer gets $$$. Not perfect but better than an empty, dying building or a full-blown dorm -- am I delusional that something like this COULD be an option? Has anything similar been proposed before?

  20. At 5:40 PM, Anonymous said:

    What if 2 floors of this building were for students in that major and the other 2 floors were a community center that the students managed/maintained for credit; thus making community support and outreach equal hands-on experience/class credit for them (and a selling point for the school).

    And the pigeons get to continue living in the 5th floor?

    Remember, people: a dorm is not a community facility.

  21. Why are our elected officials not doing more to get this space back to the community? PS64 had been thriving arts and culture center until auctioned off under Guiliani, who was out to destroy such spaces. Singer, the developer seems to be still arrogant enough to think he could make windfall profits by bypassing deed restrictions in backroom deals or underneath the community's radar (compare the Rivington House case). Public records provide a little glimpse of the vast amounts of money he can pour into lobbying and orchestrated disinformation campaigns.

    Why does he suddenly come up with Adelphi, which has its main campus in Garden City, with some programs on Varick St, i.e. rather far away. Without knowing details yet, it's seems Singer is either just trying to pre-empt a city take-over for his failure to put the building to community use or testing the waters.

    In any case, it is scandalous that Singer's greed prevents our community from accessing this space and allowing it to fall into disrepair. Why is Singer not being fined for, say, $10,000 for every day he fails to let the community access it? The city needs to start showing more teeth. It is high time for the community and its many small and large groups to get the much needed space back.

  22. What about housing for the homeless, or a hybrid of some sort. Housing for homeless people/community center.

  23. @11:08 PM: For better or for WORSE, a dorm is a community facility. I don't understand how you lobby the DOB. Next thing you know Capalino will be lobbying the Police and Fire Departments...

  24. The meeting on the 18th is being sponsored by a number of neighborhood organizations, and quite a few people are expected to attend, and not only from the East Village.

    If there is any way you can join your voice in this cry against injustice, please come on the 18th. It is only with UNITED and LOUD voices can we hope to convince the powers-that-be that this is something of great importance to everyone in our neighborhood, and in principle to people all over the city.

    Actions like this against Charas and against Rivington House by unscrupulous lobbyists and real estate people that are not limited to only Manhattan must be stopped. This is something that should be of interest to all of us, and particularly so in this NYC Election Year when our votes and voices are most likely to determine who we will want representing us in our city and districts the next years to come.


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