[Photo by Peter Brownscombe]
On Friday evening, several local elected officials, community activists and residents gathered outside the former P.S. 64 (aka CHARAS/El Bohio) on Ninth Street to rally for the return of the building to the community.
The date marked the 20th anniversary of the city auction where developer Gregg Singer became the owner of the property between Avenue B and Avenue C.
Attendees at the rally called on Mayor de Blasio to take the next steps to return the building for public use. The building became a community center after the school left in 1977. The group was evicted when Singer took over as the landlord.
Speakers included Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly member Harvey Epstein, City Council member Carlina Rivera as well as her predecessor, Rosie Mendez ...
20 years ago an injustice was done when Mayor Giuliani sent the CHARAS/El Bohio community center to auction. We’re pushing to get it back in the LES/East Village community’s hands. I urge the mayor: step on the gas in reacquiring the space — it can’t be a back-burner project. pic.twitter.com/7QfcWje937— Gale A. Brewer (@galeabrewer) July 21, 2018
@NYCMayor Give us our community center back #CHARAS today marks 20th anniversary of the action of CHARAS/El Bohío community and cultural center with @galeabrewer @RosieMendez @CarlinaRivera and community leaders pic.twitter.com/EtnCVshBqx— Harvey Epstein (@HarveyforNY) July 20, 2018
Today our neighbors came together to rally for CHARAS/PS64 on the 20th Anniversary of its auction. We have fought for a long time to reclaim community spaces & we are reminding our @NYCMayor of his commitment to the Lower East Side to get this building back. pic.twitter.com/H0iUNPXFSn— Carlina Rivera 利華娜 (@CarlinaRivera) July 21, 2018
During a town hall forum at P.S. 188 last October, de Blasio said that the Giuliani administration should not have cautioned off the property, and that he would work to "right the wrongs of the past," as DNAifno reported.
"For the administration to put that building into private hands failed miserably, and we’ve seen the negative affect that that has had on the community. So I'm announcing tonight the city's interest in re-acquiring that building," de Blasio said, eliciting cheers from the audience.
The mayor has not publicly discussed this interest any further.
Meanwhile, Singer says that he has no intention of selling the building, which he bought for $3.15 million. He wants to turn the landmarked property into a dorm called University Square, which continues in a holding pattern while the DOB maintains a Stop Work Order on the building.
Singer discussed his plans and aired his frustrations with the city, claiming officials have obstructed his legal right to develop the property, in this wide-ranging interview from June 3 with The New York Times.
Here are more photos from the rally via EVG contributor Peter Brownscombe ...