Thursday, March 9, 2023

A rally at City Hall for the former Charas/El Bohio Community Center

Residents and supporters of the former Charas/El Bohio Community Center at 609 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C have organized a rally at City Hall for March 15. 

Per the invite, attendees will "demand the city right the wrongs of the past and return our community center."

The rally starts at 11 a.m. on the south plaza outside City Hall this Wednesday.

The action comes before the landmarked building heads to a foreclosure auction on March 22 at the Hilton New York Midtown Fifth Avenue. (There is a Facebook invite to "Stop the Auction.")

The property that developer Gregg Singer purchased during a city auction in 1998 for $3.15 million fell into foreclosure last year. Through the years, Singer wanted to turn the one-time P.S. 64 into a dorm (more here), though those plans never materialized. 

In October 2017, then-Mayor de Blasio's statement at a Town Hall put forth the idea that the city would take steps to reacquire the building. 

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.  

There's also 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.


John Penley said...

Even it the mayor gave the building back to the community how would the repairs be funded ? I have always suggested that if low income apartments giving long time , elderly community residents priority were added with a community center on the ground floors renovation funds might be more available from the city. Many of the people who I know from the neighborhood are telling me that they are afraid they will be unable to eat and pay rent in the East Village now and may become homeless.

Anonymous said...

The City ought to cover the budget as reparation for 21 years of depriving the community of the community center. Taking it away from a Puerto Rican-led grassroots community was a robbery, a racist, classist assault, cultural terrorism, orchestrated by Guilini and extend by 12 years of colluding Bloomberg and 8 by toothless DeBlasio. Proper comoensation covers it essily. City should collect fines for the deed violation. Madison Realty that bankrolled this whole corrupted speculation deal has deep pockets and can easily pay that. Create proper laws. If Mayor fails yo act, City Council can. Watch who acts beyond empty words. Primaries coming up soon. Perhaps time for change.

Anonymous said...

Property needs to be restored as a school it's original purpose. Land cost are a huge cost in building a school here it is. Many Catholic schools are closing and the East Village population with children growing so restore PS 64.

Anonymous said...

Closing Catholic schools could be reopened as public schools.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info—I hope to attend the rally, if not just to show the status quo is unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

The Archdiocese will be selling the property the same way with closed Churches.The Diocese is shrinking in the City as the congregation gets smaller the value is in the property holdings.