Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Reminder: Rally at City Hall today for PS 64

As we noted last week, City Council Member Rosie Mendez and other community leaders, organizations and residents are holding a rally and press conference on the steps of City Hall today to get Mayor De Blasio's attention on the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center on East Ninth Street. The rally starts at 2 p.m. today.

As previously reported, developer Gregg Singer, who bought the property between Avenue B and Avenue C from the city in 1998, is reportedly pushing de Blasio's administration to remove a stop-work order that has been in place since 2015.

According to public records, Singer is continuing to retain high-powered lobbyist Jim Capalino, a former Mayor de Blasio ally, for the remainder of the year...

[Click for more detail]

Among Capalino's lobbying targets: the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development and the Office of the First Deputy Mayor.

Capalino, according to a New York Daily News story in March 2016, steered $50,000 to de Blasio after pushing the city to lift the deed restriction at the Rivington House. (The mayor said last August that he has cut off contact with the lobbyist in the wake of multiple investigations into his administration, per Politico.)

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, told this to DNAinfo in a story published yesterday: "We want to save our community center and we don’t want another Rivington House situation where the restrictive deed on this property is undermined or circumvented and the dorm for hire plan that the developer is currently pursuing is approved and becomes the fate of the building."

It has been reported that Singer has a signed lease with Adelphi University, and hopes to have students move in by the fall of 2018.

Preservationist groups and other residents have been opposed to Singer's plans, and want to see a return of the landmarked building to use as a cultural and community center.



Anonymous said...

Ya, let's turn it into a community center like PS 122 ! Oh wait, that's true, that was taken over by a theater group and there is no community there...Let's not do this again.

Anonymous said...

What a waste of time and property. Rosie and her few supporters should of brought the building when it was up for auction. That is what an auction is - an opportunity for people and public to buy. Now she has sour grapes and wants the building for free. This will never happen and she should use her resources for better use.

Anonymous said...

At Anonymous at 8:59AM

Do you know the history of this building? This is not a Rosie driven effort, this is a community effort. Maybe you should attend a SOCCC 64 meeting to educate yourself.

cmarrtyy said...

PS 122 is successful because it is single purpose. Community centers fail because they become pork barrels and hangouts for the local pols and their supporters under the guise of senior, daycare and educational support programs.

29yearsanEVresident said...

The building's history as a "community center" is debatable, the merits of any alternatives to Singer's plan for the building are debatable-- mostly because they are wildly speculative and don't contain any clear path to site acquisition--especially when you factor in other competitive capital budget needs and priorities. It's not in dispute that Singer is a jerk by almost all accounts, but it's also not disputable he owns the property and can't be forced to do anything he doesn't want to. The carrying cost of the building clearly isn't bleeding him dry. The city/community had an opportunity to craft a different kind of public use for this building at the time of auction but couldn't/wouldn't/didn't. It was bought for $3.15 million...... 3.15 million!!! Now, rather than empty sloganeering and fanning unrealistic flames of complete community control and empty promises of "sticking it to the man", who is going to step up, swallow hard and craft some sort of deal that extracts as much community value out of the development of the property in exchange for clearing some of the development hurdles for the dorm? There is no zero sum game here. The community doesn't get to "win" and send a chastened Singer back to his corner "losing" bereft of property and investment. Either the city makes his life unteneable and finds a frankly ridiculous amount of money to buy him off --huge profit in hand--and then take on the burden of rehabbing the property, or some sort of compromise is fashioned and hopefully the "community" learns the lesson of Carpe Diem. ALso, in case you think dorms won't fly as a community use taht's a waste of a lawsuit. "Community use" in zoning speak is a wide enough category to drive a truck through "Community facility zoning regulations in New York City permit a wide range of educational, health care, religious and
not-for-profit institutions to locate in residence districts in New York City."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that informative post 29yearsanEVresident. Maybe that will clear up some of the ridiculous comments.

chris flash said...

The city has always had the ability to RESCIND the sale of Charas to Singer on any number of grounds, not the least of which is the improper terms of sale (the city actually FINANCED this deal -- something it NEVER does for a sale of city-owned property!!) and the "urban blight" and building violations accrued over the past 15 years since Singer took possession, but there is NO desire to take real action.

Getting the building land-marked was a BIG step in the right direction. So was getting restrictive zoning. Still, Singer's plan, whether or not he can get token "student housing" on the site, is to wait us all out. He figures that, given enough time, politicians, community groups and neighbors who oppose him will move on and be out of his (non-existent) hair. Then he can do whatever he wants by getting a zoning variance from a future-but-equally-corrupt mayor's office (it only takes making the right "contribution".

Meanwhile, it is a waste of time and energy to get behind tired politicians (in office and those who are aspiring to higher office) who have been green-lighting over-development of the LES that fuels the hyper-gentrification destroying our community.

Two cases in point: re-zoning of the site occupied by a row of middle-income apartment buildings across the street from Webster Hall on East 11th Street that allows for erecting a luxury sky-scraper hotel after the buildings are demolished, and the development of "market rate" (INFLATED) units along Delancey Street on what was city-owned land that was cleared of affordable housing almost 50 years ago and NEVER restored or developed until corrupt NYS assemblyman Sheldon Silver was ousted and the real estate market was at an all-time high.

REAL "representatives" would be using their power and positions to PREVENT this sort of shit, not organizing pitiful demonstrations AFTER the damage has been done and cannot be un-done. Beware of being sucked in by phoney forked-tongued politicos selling us FALSE HOPE, facilitating gentrification with one hand as they pretend to rally against it with the other!!

Anonymous said...

re: 29yearsanEVresident. A dorm is not community use, it's private. I'm a member of the community and would not be able to walk into said dorm and hang out should it be built. I don't think Charas should get it by default as they mismanaged their funding,leading it to be auctioned in the first place. However the building is supposed to be for some type of community use. Singer knew that when he bought the building.

29yearsanEVresident said...

@anon 10:34pm in the law's eyes it's a community use. Really --read this: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/rules/1_RCNY_51-01.pdf and talk to any land use lawyer. You couldn't just walk into daycare center as a single adult, a drug treatment program without medical sanction, a senior center without an age requirement or a music or theater program with limited or screened enrollment. All of which would be run by companies or organizations that are "private." Most community uses are "private" including places like what I think most people would have been most happy with years ago-- a settlement house type community center with comprehensive programming. But alas, as @Chris Flash correctly points out that opportunity was lost years ago by short sightedness on a bunch of fronts including all of us in the "community." He's also right that protests like yesterdays are bread and circuses. We would probably differ in that I would advocate that somebody, at this point, with some juice throw themselves into cutting the best deal on behalf of the community as can be made before Singer waits us out. People should be asking elected officials what their real, specific end game is rather than the pandering that passes for public policy here.

Anonymous said...

@10:34 - Maybe not but there are plenty of community centers within a 5 block radius that you could just walk into and hang out in. This neighborhood is not short on community centers. It's a myth.

Anonymous said...

The problem is our elected leadership is just hearing from a small minority about what would be a good use for this building. Try bringing up any use to these folks except CHARAS and they act out. There are plenty of things this building could be used for that the community needs and an elected official that has the ear of the Mayor might be able to make that happen, but alas we don't have that person, they don't have the Mayors ear and their ear is being filled by only one voice screaming CHARAS or nothing.