Top photo by Stacie Joy from January; 2nd photo from last week by Duke9
Representatives of the coalition Save Our Community Center, CHARAS, former P.S. 64 (SOCCC-64) were planning on a celebration yesterday following the auction of the property "because it would have allowed the City to begin negotiations to re-acquire the building and return it as a cultural and community center to the neighborhood."
Instead, per a statement from SOCCC-64:
This is yet another in a long series of frivolous court actions to tie up the property and try and force a settlement that would allow Singer to violate the use restrictions on the building and construct a youth hostel that he is trying to pass off as a dormitory.
On March 15
, SOCCC-64, community leaders and residents hand-delivered a letter from local elected officials — including Councilmember Carlina Rivera, Congressman Dan Goldman, Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and State Sen. Brian Kavanagh — to City Hall requesting a meeting as soon as possible to discuss re-acquiring the center. (Read more about the rally here
Meanwhile, as The Real Deal reported
, Singer is also in litigation over the property with the city and former Mayor Bill de Blasio.
He sued in 2018, claiming a conspiracy blocked his efforts to redevelop the building. Singer is now seeking to amend the lawsuit.
The city had not owned the property since selling it to Singer during the Giuliani administration, yet the developer alleges the offer "prompted the city to go from a slow walk to a full stop by categorically and unconditionally denying" him building permits.
Singer's attorney filed a motion seeking to amend his complaint. The proposed amended complaint was filed under seal.
Singer said in a statement that the amended complaint "will lift the curtain revealing the city's actions under Mayor de Blasio."
The 135,000-square-foot landmarked building is zoned for "community facility use," Any conversion to residential housing would require a zoning variance. The long-standing Stop Work Order and Full Vacate are still on file with the Department of Buildings.
Singer wanted to turn the building into a dorm (more here), though those plans never materialized. (In past years, the Joffrey Ballet and Cooper Union were attached to the project.)
In late December, New York State Justice Melissa Crane ordered the foreclosure and sale of the former P.S. 64 with a default, including penalties and interest totaling approximately $90 million.
The property that Singer purchased from the city in 1998 for $3.15 million fell into foreclosure last year and was reportedly in the hands of lender Madison Realty Capital.
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. According to published reports, the Mayor said he'd work to "right the wrongs of the past." 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 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!" (You can find the petition here.)
With more legal proceedings and what critics refer to as delay tactics ahead, the building will continue to sit empty for the foreseeable future.
THE CITY has a recap on what's been happening to date here ... with comments from Councilmember Rivera.