Photos Tuesday by Stacie Joy
The construction team sealing up the former P.S. 64/Charas/El Bohio Community Center is wrapping up their work over the next few days.
As The Village Voice previously pointed out, "the work is being performed under an Immediate Emergency Declaration, and permits are not a prerequisite for the work to begin," per the Department of Buildings.
The work also comes at the expense of now-former owner Gregg Singer, who bought the property via a city auction in 1998. 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).
The workers, who arrived on Dec. 20, told EVG contributor Stacie Joy on Tuesday that they are sealing up some remaining windows and putting down 2x4s to shore up the ground-floor banisters and flooring on the building's Ninth Street and 10th Street sides here between Avenue B and Avenue C ...
The former school and community center had been easy to access in recent years, attracting a variety of urban thrillseekers and partygoers. The broken windows and poorly secured doors also exposed the building to the elements — not to mention pigeons and other critters.
On Monday, workers were spotted using cinder blocks to cover part of a Charas tribute/LES history mural on the 10th Street side of the building that included part of a former doorway.
According to workers, they've actually "preserved" the artwork here (two murals were mostly covered), saying that there is an inch or two between the masonry and the painting, so it is not being disturbed and that no mortar abuts the work. The property will likely sit in limbo for a little longer. As we previously reported, at the end of 2022, Singer's nearly 23-year tenure as building owner ended.
On Dec. 23, New York State Justice Melissa Crane ordered the foreclosure and sale of the building with a default, including penalties and interest totaling approximately $90 million. (You can read Crane's 20-page decision and order here.)
The order could send the property back to auction within 90 days.
Meanwhile, some residents want to see the space used again as a community center, as it was during its time as Charas/El Bohio Community Center. Singer evicted the group on Dec. 27, 2001.
I hope Chino Garcia and his Charas Foundation are raising money to buy the building at the auction. It would have been great if they had started doing this 20 years ago. There is only one person , with long time neighborhood ties , that might be able to buy it and fix it up and that is Charles King.
In the Voice article many people seem to be taking credit for making this happen. In reality , Frank Morales , Kenny Toglia and Duke9 got the ball rolling on this and nobody else.
Great work guys!
Don't just pin hope on some rich guy, nor make unwarranted demands on grassroots volunteers who don't have $millions. Charas/El Bohio once belonged to this community and now it needs to be given back to it. This is the taks of a government: govern for the people, rectify historic wrongs, use eminent domain, use the power of making laws in the interest of community, and enforce it properly. Undoing Guiliani's devastation won't come cheap, but this is one of the richest cities on the face of Earth. It can rise to the challenge. Long live Charas/El Bohio, the LES's cultural community center for generations to come.
Years ago this would be a squat or even a 24 hour rave might as well put up a fish tank
12:24 PM, don't pin hope on the city. It's not going to happen.
What rich city? This city is almost broke right now. Move on from the free community center fantasy. There are much more important things to do with city budget.
Broke city??? Total myth! $billions of wealth right here. Simple matter of setting priorities!!! For the community and for many, many other needs too. Yes we can!
Yeah there are billions in this city, most of it privately owned but not by people who are going to give a rat's ass about giving a free community center to the EV. But the city itself, that's a different story. It has billions that have to be apportioned out between millions, and many competing needs; a free community center is not on top of anyone's priority list there, including our fine Councilwoman's.
It's a matter of deciding how much revenue to raise at city, state, federal level; of allowing speculators to violate deed restrictions over 20+ years; of allowing speculators to turn $3m into $80+ by just letting a building rot; or of prioritizing people and community. We need investigative journalism to inform how much our politicians get paid by speculators. In the end, it is voters to hold elected officials accountable fir their action.
> We need investigative journalism to inform how much our politicians get paid by speculators
Cheaper than 90 million but still not free. And would a significant number of voters care about a corrupt real estate transaction from 20+ years ago, or even close to agree on the definition of community center in 2023?
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