Thursday, November 10, 2022

A march to 'give us back our community center'

This coming Monday (Nov. 14), a group of activists is planning a march on the Midtown offices of Madison Realty Capital to demand the return of the former P.S. 64 to the community.

The long-empty building at 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C fell into foreclosure earlier this year and is reportedly in the hands of lender Madison Realty Capital.

The five-floor building is being offered for use as medical space or educational-related purposes. Meanwhile, some residents want to see the space used as a community center, as it was during its time as CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center.

Here's more about Monday's noon-time action via the Facebook invite:
Hey Billionaires! Give Us Back Our Community Center! 

Recently the former P.S. 64 ... fell into foreclosure. It is now in the hands of the Madison Realty group, "a vertically integrated real estate private-equity firm that manages approximately $9.5 billion in total assets on behalf of an institutional global investor base."

These are the folks that currently hold sway regarding the future of our beloved community center. 

We need to let them know that: We Demand that the former P.S. 64 be returned to our Lower East Side community for use by our community. Protest at Madison Realty Capital offices: 520 Madison Ave. (between 53rd and 54th Streets).
Gregg Singer bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998 for $3.15 million. He later evicted CHARAS in 2001, and the building has sat empty ever since.

There's now an updated action on Monday afternoon directed toward then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Per the invite:
At 1:30 p.m., we’ll send "A Message to You, Rudy." We'll march to protest Rudy Giuliani's underhanded sale of the property by picketing the RUDY SHOW at WABC Radio, 800 Third Ave. (between 49th and 50th Streets).
You can find the Facebook invite here.

As previously reported, ownership of the property had been in transition. In January, Supreme Court Justice Melissa Crane ruled that Madison Realty Capital could move forward with a foreclosure against Singer after years of delay. 

Madison Realty Capital reportedly provided Singer with a $44 million loan on the property in 2016. Court records show that he failed to repay the balance by its maturity date in April 2016, and by that September, the lender filed to foreclose, as reported by The Real Deal.

Singer wanted to turn the building into a dorm (more here), though those plans never materialized.

The address has multiple open fines and violations with the Department of Buildings, which still has a Stop Work Order (dating to August 2015) and a Full Vacate Order (from February 2019).

Photo by Kenny Toglia 


Anonymous said...

If these activists want the building back for community use they can buy it at as it is up for sale. All they seem to do is protest but don't have any feasible plans at all. Even if the property was given to them for free they don't have any plans or funds on how to renovate it and make it usable again - which will cost millions of dollars.
If the activists were serious they would have some concrete feasible proposals - but all they do is protest and waste time.
This is a shame as this building has been vacant for a long time and it would have been better used as anything else - rather than sitting there and decomposing.
Any what does protesting Rudy accomplish? Nothing. These same activists could have purchased the building when it was auctioned off years ago under Rudy. But instead of doing that they released crickets into the auction crowd - which obviously did not accomplish any of their goals.
Activists - spend your time seriously thinking about this project and put a viable plan and funding in place. Otherwise move on and let this building become something useful for NY.

Anonymous said...

@8:05: Ok, Gregg, we know it's you.

Anonymous said...

@8:05AM: Oh, c'mon: the city tilted the table totally AWAY from any civic groups buying it. Just one more thing Giuliani has to answer for.

Anonymous said...

The community has ample time to pool resources and buy this building 40 years ago when it was rehearsal rooms , drug den , squat, place to dedicate. But it's easier to complain then to act. Love it or hate it but Madison capital has millions invested and the local community has words. You gotta be in it to win it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should live in the now.

Sarah said...

Madison is a predatory lender that was happy to fund Toledano's purchases of rent-stabilized buildings on terms that basically required him to force stabilized tenants out to make the payments:

They deserve no benefit of any doubt nor any respect for their "investments."

Anonymous said...

They didn't get to be billionaires by giving away money. I agree with the first commentor, so the community gets the building back, then what? It's a mess. Who pays for the renovations? Do you plan to hit up the millionaires for that one this time? Come up with an actionable plan instead of protesting on a Monday at noon. Most people are working.

Sarah said...

OK, Gregg.

Anonymous said...

Lots of good points, but I don't think there is any harm in calling greater attention to the fact that it is still a derelict building that is sitting rotting away in a vibrant neighborhood. Or that Guiliani had a hand in the decision to auction it off at the end of his term.

I hate to say it, but what about a public/private partnership that could satisfy all interests?

Anonymous said...

Also shame on the SDNY only getting those tenants a million . That case should have gotten 10 or 15 million , a million to Madison capital is literally like 50 bucks to an average person

Kenny Toglia said...

This is the Guardians of Loisaida's plan for the former Charas building:

Organize enough popular pressure through direct action and other means to convince Mayor Adams a new community center in Loisaida is a positive thing for the city. Mayor Adams can seize the “former PS 64” through his powers of eminent domain and turn it over to a truly representative neighborhood group dedicated to a new Neighborhood Center, E9CC, for all the people of our community.

Ask the community what kinds of programming they’d like to see in the new E9 Community Center.

Devise a budget for the renovation of the existing building based on a realistic structural analysis and scope of work, and not fall for the usual “the costs are too prohibitive to fix the place.”

Demand that the city, as part of its transfer of title for the building to the community, include a sizable fund to be put towards the renovation of the building, as a form of reparations for the years of physical abuse the building has suffered.

Organize an “urban homesteading” sweat equity, section-by-section “barn raising” model of renovation utilizing the muscle and skills of those who wish to engage with the project as shareholders in the new Community Center.

Insure low-income and working-class people, people of color, and women from the community are prioritized in all aspects of work and programming.

Move towards the creation of a Community Land Trust for the “former PS 64” and the new E9CC Community Center.

Manage the Center with full transparency and democratic processes as a not-for-profit enterprise dedicated to the uplift of the Loisaida community, most especially its youth.

And lastly, defend the “former PS 64” against further destruction and the threat of arson - the developers' most heinous weapon, and create a new Loisaida Community and Cultural Center, E9CC, that will be the crown jewel of the neighborhood!

On behalf of: Los Guardias de Loisaida The Guardians of Loisaida

Anonymous said...

There are enough zillionaires and major corporations in this city that you'd think someone would want to help salvage this building.

Michael Bloomberg (just to cite one name that came to my mind) could pay for this and never even miss the money. Name the place after him or after whoever cares enough to put their money where their good intentions for NYC are. If you want a better NYC, you need donors with deep pockets, and the longer this gets dragged out, the sadder the long-term prospects for this once-gorgeous building are.

Kenny Toglia said...

Pardon me, but just to clarify, we are not in any way the same activists who were involved previously in the former Charas. In fact, the former Charas activists even went so far as to send us a "cease and desist letter", that's why we changed our name to the Guardians of Loisaida. It's worth mentioning some of us have even faced off against some of them in the past. We fought to save La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez, they fought to destroy it, and we won. Have you been there? It's a gem among community gardens citywide and hopefully an indication of what we can accomplish with people power. And Giuliani IS a fair target, he created this mess by selling a building he had no real right to sell. Whatever his quarrel was with the former Charas follks, he was wrong to destroy a thriving community resource.
Also, I just want to add, I totally disagree with harming animals at a protest, even crickets. Thanks, k

Anonymous said...

With inflation and recession in full swing and lasting for the next few years, there's no city money. Expect massive budget cuts instead.

Anonymous said...

Eminent domain and build senior housing thereby taking the heat off the Elizabeth St garden. It's a lot of space so put a community center / daycare in a room or two. Quality daycare and senior housing are things we really need and a good combination. If we're really serious about senior housing get a screw-you-Singer height abatement and buy off the Christodora.

And protesting leaky head Rudy will will always be a good idea even if irrelevant in this case.


I Live Next Door

John Penley said...

I would love to see the Charas / El Bohio air rights used for low income apartments with a Community Center on the ground floors. Please reserve an apartment for me if this happens and more low income housing is desperately needed NOW. How about also reserving some for the new immigrant families that are being brought to NYC from Texas and Florida ? By the way..I suggested they go to WABC and am very happy they decided to add this stop to the protest. THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH !!!

John Penley said...

If a fight to keep the building had been backed by Chino Garcia or if Armando Perez [who I believe wanted to fight] had not been murdered I am sure Charas would have been included by Margarita Lopez when she made the Squatter building deal with Rudy Giuliani and Charas / El Bohio would not have stayed vacant for 20 years.

Anonymous said...

I love community activism but first comment nailed it...we need a heavier dose of realism.

If you want your "thriving" community centers to "thrive" then there has to be some semblance of financial responsibility. PS 64 was sold to Singer at auction for a little over 3 million dollars. That is truly an incredible price for a 130,000 (!!!) square foot building. I wish the CHARAS leaders got loans and took out equity to acquire this property. I wish they rallied local residents for crowdfunding even wealthier ones for sounds advice and fiscal planning. You cannot rely on the city for handouts even if they do have a responsibility to nurture the community. For us - by us.

XTC said...

If Madison RC provided Singer with a loan of $44million in 2016 then expect to double or triple that number today. That's just for the rehab. Then for an imminent domain acquisition the City would have to pay fair market value to the current owner. Not gonna happen. Getting street people and anarchists to do construction work and asbestos and lead abatement is some kind of joke, right?

The City hasn't had the funding to renovate a couple of toilets in TSP for the past 30 years. They're sure as hell not going blow a $100 million on this thing.

Anonymous said...

Agree with XTC. You hit the nail on the head. The community should have allowed a grad school dorm with community space years ago as was proposed . Charas is an idea from another era - an era of burnt out buildings, rampant crime and drug dealing. We re in another century. To think that a tiny community group such as Loisaida Guardians can raise the funds to purchase, renovate and operate a building of this scale is a pipe dream of epic proportions.

John Penley said...

The "long standing organizing effort to recover the building" was a 20 year total failure and those who are Chino Garcia's big supporters should tell everyone if and how much he got PAID to leave the building without a fight. Keep it up Frank Morales and Kenny Toglia ...squat Charas today. Your critics are a bunch of losers and just look at all the attention being paid to them because of your squatter style actions getting the building back even the 20 year losers and Chino Garcia are getting more attention then they actually deserve. If he had fought for the building I believe it would have been part of the squatter deal Lopez made with Giuliani and not have rotted away for 20 years. Ignore the losers and keep it up !!!