Thursday, February 16, 2023

A petition and more cinder blocks for the former P.S. 64/Charas/El Bohio Community Center

We thought the construction team sealing up the former P.S. 64/Charas/El Bohio Community Center had wrapped up their emergency work.

However, yesterday, a reader noted a worker putting cinder blocks over an entrance on the 10th Street side of the building... and over a mural of LES activist, actor, and playwright Bimbo Rivas. (Last month, workers told EVG contributor Stacie Joy that they've actually "preserved" the artwork here, claiming that there is an inch or two between the masonry and the painting.)

The workers, who arrived on Dec. 20, told Stacie that they were 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.

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.

Meanwhile, as reported late last month, the landmarked building is headed to a foreclosure auction in March. 

According to The Real Deal, a court-appointed referee set an auction for the property at the Hilton New York Midtown Fifth Avenue on March 22. (As previously noted, the 135,000-square-foot building is zoned for "community facility use." Any conversion to a condoplex or residential housing would require a zoning variance.)

There's now a petition in circulation titled, "Save Charas Community Center! Stop the Private Auction!"

Per the petition, which states, "Demand Mayor Adams use eminent domain to return the center to the people!"
For 22 years, from 1979 to 2001, 605 E. Ninth St. served as the home to the Charas/El Bohio Community & Cultural Center. Each year, thousands of people attended programs there. Charas hosted community meetings, children’s programming, art exhibits, music concerts, film screenings, plays, dance recitals, bicycle recycling, construction and youth jobs training, substance abuse treatment, and political organizing. 

In 1998, Rudy Giuliani sold Charas to a campaign contributor [Gregg Singer] for a paltry $3.15 million, and in December of 2001, Charas was evicted from the space, and the center was shuttered.
You can find the petition here.

And our previous post has more background. 


Anonymous said...

Please consider getting a sound permit for the street outside and do a big rally and concert before the auction.

Kenny Toglia said...

Great idea, thanks a lot.