Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The former P.S. 64/Charas is now headed to a bankruptcy sale

The former P.S. 64/Charas/El Bohio Community Center is headed to a bankruptcy sale later this fall. 

According to the Hilco Real Estate (HRE) website, the auction date for the long-vacant property at 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C is Nov. 8. (Bankruptcy Sale | Southern District of New York (Manhattan) | Petition No. 23-10423-dsj, In re: 9th & 10th Street LLC.)

The qualified bid deadline is Oct. 18, with on-site inspections starting today. 

Per the HRE website: 
Once a school steeped in history, this six-story building with it's striking architecture was designated an individual landmark by New York City in 2006. The interior is down to the studs and approved for the construction of student/college dormitory use with a capacity for 535 beds. Notably, several area schools have expressed strong interest in leasing upon completion providing the developer instant leaseup. By repurposing this site, the East Village community can both enhance its cultural vitality and meet the critical demand for comfortable and convenient accommodations for the expanding population of NYC.
The day before a foreclosure auction in March, developer Gregg Singer put the long-vacant property into bankruptcy protectionthe latest maneuver in his nearly 25 years of being involved with the building. This action came two months after New York State Justice Melissa Crane ordered the foreclosure and sale of the former school and community center. 

Adam Pincus at PincusCo reported in March
Singer claimed the five-story building has assets and liabilities both above $100 million, and that there would be funds to make payments to the more than two dozen creditors. Madison Realty Capital filed the pre-foreclosure action in 2018 that triggered the foreclosure sale, only two years after giving Singer a $44 million loan secured by the property. 

As of a February 2022 referee's report, the property had debts of $89.98 million.
As Pincus noted, "Singer's move to protect his ownership of the building is part of an extensive involvement of the courts over the years."

Singer purchased the property during a city auction in 1998 for $3.15 million. Through the years, Singer wanted to turn the one-time P.S. 64 into a dorm (more here), though those plans never materialized, and the building has sat in disrepair, prompting the city to take emergency measures to seal it up in late 2022. 

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 was a petition in circulation earlier this year titled, "Save Charas Community Center! Stop the Private Auction!" The petition stated, "Demand Mayor Adams use eminent domain to return the center to the people!" 

The 135,000-square-foot building is zoned for "community facility use." (Any conversion to residential housing would require a zoning variance.) The DOB's Stop Work Order dating to August 2015 is still in effect. The DOB lifted the Full Vacate Order (from February 2019) last week to "allow inspection by city's licensed engineers with owner and owner's engineer," according to public records. 


Anonymous said...

Part of former mayor Guiliani's war on culture, the vibrant Charas/El Bohio Community Center was evicted, the then Puerto Rican-led heart of the neighborhood destroyed, now for over two decades sitting empty, depriving a generation of youth, a generation of artists, a generation of community residents of its vital space. Mayor Adams and City Council have it in their hands to remedy a historic wrong and give the building back to its community. Now is the time!

Anonymous said...

$89 million ? That money certainly wasn't put into maintaining the property.


Do something for the greater good with this building.

Anonymous said...

Where are all the billionaires in this city, and where's the imagination to know what could be done here for the CITIZENS of this city?

Mike Bloomberg, for example, could have gotten this building into city hands when he was mayor - and/or he or someone with his $$$$$$ could have BOUGHT the place outright. And I'm sure he could have facilitated changing the zoning so that it could have become affordable housing or WHATEVER!

To a billionaire, the money involved in buying this building and bringing it to good use is POCKET CHANGE ... but you'd actually have to CARE ABOUT this corner of the city.

Anonymous said...

"...Notably, several area schools have expressed strong interest in leasing upon completion..."

NYU? Cooper Union? They must know something that we don't.
Either way, this will be snapped up by some large entity with the cash and connections to make it profitable.

yetanothercommenter said...

Now would be the time for serious community use projects to be worked up. What should go here, how much would it cost and how would it be paid for?

My current prediction as to final outcome: Quick zoning variance, housing with a portion "low income".

John Penley said...

There is a 501 C3 not for profit associated with Chino Garcia and others which has organized demos at the building and city hall and has I assume accepted donations for many years [who knows but they are registered with NY State ] so where are they on this sale ???? Perhaps EV Grieve or a concerned neighborhood resident could find out. MORUS another 501C3 not for profit has been organizing with the CHARAS 501C3 for years as well. MORUS has said "Take It Back "so where are they on that ???

Anonymous said...

Giuliani stole this vital neighborhood resource out of sheer cruelty…but now he’s finally headed for the big house.

showard said...

This is yet another attempt by Singer to try and hold on to the building.
He has proposed "bidding procedures" (including an auction date of Nov. 8) to the Bankruptcy court that have Not been approved, including an option of Singer paying off the mortgage by Halloween! And Hilco's ad is untruthful. CHARAS has Not been approved for a college dormitory, and there must be leases in place by a real College or University before any application for a permit is submitted. Save Our Community Center PS 64, SOCCC-64 is the coalition that has been fighting for CHARAS for over 20 years. Wing nuts with no clue and no purpose can yell at the sky, but we will continue to fight to return our community and cultural center. Letter Petition here:

Anonymous said...

Turn down this building

Anonymous said...

This is a perfect opportunity for all the activists and associated politicians to raise the necessary funds and buy the building back at auction. They failed to buy it at the 1998 auction and now 25 years later hopefully they have raised the funds necessary to buy the property and renovate it and use it as they wish for the community. Will they do this as they have wanted back the building?

Dan said...

Thanks for this reporting!

Anonymous said...

Billionaires are like evil and stuff. Why beg for their money? Why doesn't the neighborhood raise some money ?

Anonymous said...

How do we get into a situation in which several commenters refer to billionaires as a solution and suggest that a democracy can't afford to buy back its own former property. Of course, the neighborhood's artists and activists are not rich enough to buy back what was stolen from it during Guliani's reign. How did we get into a situation in which a rich developer can violate the deed on the property day after day, week after week, month after month, over a period of more than two decades without incurring stiff fines??? Property fines could easily pay for the building already. Where is enforcement??? Why this inaction on the part of the mayor and city council??? PS: Mayor Adams's building commissioner (and fundraiser!) is now facing bribery charges. Is there a pattern???

Chris Flash said...

As I have been saying, like Dorothy and her red ruby slippers, the city has ALWAYS had the ability to retrieve this once city-owned building. In this case, it can declare the building a "blighted" property and seize it through "eminent domain."

Once back in the city's hands, the building can be turned over to the "School Construction Authority" which has an army of contractors who fix, rebuild and construct public school buildings all over the city, with an annual budget that makes this possible. Our neighborhood happens to be critically short on public school space. Restoring the Charas building back to its original use with modern upgrades would be a wonderful outcome for all of us!

The PROBLEM, as I have also been saying, is that, over the past 25 years that that cretin Singer has had his grip on that building, we have had four mayors and four city councilmembers and two assemblymen, NONE of whom have used their powers and abilities to retrieve this property from Singer. I suppose it's best use since 1998 has been, for them, a prop for the false promises they can make when they are campaigning for re-election.

Until and unless there is political WILLPOWER on the part of our "elected representatives," that building is DOOMED.

Anonymous said...

Tear down this this building. Built apts

Anonymous said... El barrio’s art space is. Read them and weep.

Laura said...

The economics behind this vacuous comment are:city sold building for ~3M. Predatory lenders” “investments” vlaimed to make it “worth ~89M.” Explain why cash-strapped residents of a lower-income part of NYC and a few struggling non-profits should magically crowdsource this inflated sum to compete at auction to buy people’s resource that should never have been privatized.

Kenny Toglia said...

These comments illustrate the problems inherent in forming a coalition and saving the building. Penley does nothing but whine and divide. Mac only attacks Penley. Susan Howard pontificates. The Museum does nothing to reclaim the urban space. If we as a community can't gather the will, after 25 years, to simply come together and take the building back during a homelessness/immigration crisis, it's gonna be gentrified. OCCUPY CHARAS!

Jared said...

535 rooms can be 1000 people. That's a lot of transient people in the park and in bars. It will make an impact.

Long-term residents might become community gardeners.

SIP_ CHARAS said...

Correction. Implying that people misappropriate funds when they are running nonprofits on a public post online is not slander. ITS LIBEL and defamation of character which is actionable. It doesn't save CHARAS it shuts down other really amazing organizations full of people who actively preserve the East Village's history etc. on a daily basis. It's in bad taste and yes it shows why the coalition building that needs to happen for CHARAS to be returned can't happen. Too many egos who think their way is the only way and they are right. Meanwhile those who want to take the building from the community are able to collaborate just fine on that goal. It has been stated that the owner Mr. Singer was amenable to a deal where half the building or the lower floors of it at least could be for community space and the rest of it be commercial. While of course we would ideally want the WHOLE thing - half or part of the building reserved for the center to be there again is better than NOTHING. Why was this proposal not clearly and honestly shown to the whole community and immediately shut down, assuming it does exist? When stating we are here to serve the community its important to be transparent and tell the community honestly about any offers on the table that might keep the center operational, and what the actual pros and cons or loopholes of the offer that was made might be.

At this point it doesn't look like this building is going back to the community and a vital resource is lost. Arguing about whose "fault" that is, is pointless. Perhaps learnign from it and finding another nearby building to house the same programs and beneficial services is in order. Again - something is better than nothing and clearly this help is still very much needed and the cultural programming, etc. is still very much relevant and needed on the Lower East Side/in Loisada.

Instead of continuing to fight on top of the ashes what is being done to perhaps make a deal with the new ownership, see if that past deal is still viable given that approval for a dorm has not been issued etc., or to see if another nearby building will take what was CHARAS, in?

Richie Perez is tossing in his sleep.
And I am very disappointed in all these seasoned activists, who know better that to let this become what it has become.