Showing posts with label CHARAS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CHARAS. Show all posts

Sunday, November 20, 2022

New murals depict LES history outside the long-empty CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center

Photos by Stacie Joy 

New murals are in progress on the 10th Street side of the former P.S. 64/CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center between Avenue B and Avenue C. 

EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by yesterday for a work-in-progress look at the murals that aim to beautify the sidewalk and celebrate the legacy of the founders of CHARAS. It's a PIRAGUA art space initiative in partnership with by the Thrive Collective, Loisaida Inc., LES Community Concerns, MoRUS and La Plaza Cultural.

The murals, which include one honoring longtime neighborhood activist Carlos "Chino" Garcia (below), are expected to be completed later this week...
The building, owned by Gregg Singer since 1998, fell into foreclosure earlier this year and is reportedly in the hands of lender Madison Realty Capital.

The five-floor building is being offered for use as medical space or educational-related purposes. Meanwhile, some residents want to see the space used as a community center, as it was during its time as CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center.

This past Monday, a group of activists marched on the Midtown offices of Madison Realty Capital to demand the return of the former P.S. 64 to the community. You can read news coverage of the action at The Village Sun.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

A march to 'give us back our community center'

This coming Monday (Nov. 14), a group of activists is planning a march on the Midtown offices of Madison Realty Capital to demand the return of the former P.S. 64 to the community.

The long-empty building at 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C fell into foreclosure earlier this year and is reportedly in the hands of lender Madison Realty Capital.

The five-floor building is being offered for use as medical space or educational-related purposes. Meanwhile, some residents want to see the space used as a community center, as it was during its time as CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center.

Here's more about Monday's noon-time action via the Facebook invite:
Hey Billionaires! Give Us Back Our Community Center! 

Recently the former P.S. 64 ... fell into foreclosure. It is now in the hands of the Madison Realty group, "a vertically integrated real estate private-equity firm that manages approximately $9.5 billion in total assets on behalf of an institutional global investor base."

These are the folks that currently hold sway regarding the future of our beloved community center. 

We need to let them know that: We Demand that the former P.S. 64 be returned to our Lower East Side community for use by our community. Protest at Madison Realty Capital offices: 520 Madison Ave. (between 53rd and 54th Streets).
Gregg Singer bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998 for $3.15 million. He later evicted CHARAS in 2001, and the building has sat empty ever since.

There's now an updated action on Monday afternoon directed toward then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Per the invite:
At 1:30 p.m., we’ll send "A Message to You, Rudy." We'll march to protest Rudy Giuliani's underhanded sale of the property by picketing the RUDY SHOW at WABC Radio, 800 Third Ave. (between 49th and 50th Streets).
You can find the Facebook invite here.

As previously reported, ownership of the property had been in transition. In January, Supreme Court Justice Melissa Crane ruled that Madison Realty Capital could move forward with a foreclosure against Singer after years of delay. 

Madison Realty Capital reportedly provided Singer with a $44 million loan on the property in 2016. Court records show that he failed to repay the balance by its maturity date in April 2016, and by that September, the lender filed to foreclose, as reported by The Real Deal.

Singer wanted to turn the building into a dorm (more here), though those plans never materialized.

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).

Photo by Kenny Toglia 

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Public art returns to the former CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center

Photos by Kenny Toglia 

Public art has returned to the former CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center on Ninth Street/10th Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. 

There's a new installation on the property titled "Pumpkin Dome" via the Buckyteers, a radical art/engineering collective. The group is reclaiming the space for the community "and tells big real estate to back off," per a statement.
... group member Mark Chaos...
The five-floor building became the CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center after P.S. 64 left in the mid-1970s. New landlord Gregg Singer reportedly evicted the group in December 2001. He bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998 for $3.15 million, and it has remained vacant for 20-plus years.


Meanwhile, Madison Realty Capital has moved forward with a foreclosure against Singer ... and, as we first reported, the building is now being pitched for use as a medical facility or for educational purposes. 

H/T John Penley

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Seth Tobocman on the story behind a long-covered mural on 9th Street

Interview and images by Stacie Joy 

For 22 years, from 1979 to 2001, 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C served as the home to the Charas/El Bohio Community & Cultural Center.

At its peak, it was used by thousands each year, and hosted a wide array of activity: community meetings, children’s programming, art exhibits, music concerts, film screenings, plays, dance recitals, bicycle recycling, construction training, a substance abuse treatment, and political organizing. 
Unfortunately, the abandoned building, the onetime P.S. 64, has sat in disrepair for more than 20 years. (See the end of the post for more background.)

Workers recently removed the plywood from the Ninth Street side, revealing artwork from the days leading up to Charas’ eviction in 2001, including a drawing by longtime East Village-based artist-illustrator Seth Tobocman (above)

The art reads:
A 7-year-old drew this picture at a class here at Charas. The boy was upset because he and his family had found the body of a woman who had been decapitated on their doorstep. That was in the 1980s when they called the Lower East Side the warzone. Now all of N.Y.C. is a warzone. The world is a bad neighborhood. We need cultural centers like Charas more than ever to keep our sanity.
We reached out to Tobocman to learn more about the piece and the story he referenced in the painting. 

How did it feel to see your recently uncovered work in front of Charas? When we first sent you the image, you expressed surprise at seeing it — it had been under plywood for 20-plus years.

When EV Grieve first contacted me, asking me whether I had a mural at Charas, I said “no” because I had completely forgotten about this project. But when I saw the photograph, I immediately remembered it. 

It is strange that this artwork was covered over with plywood to emerge almost intact 20-plus years later like some kind of time capsule, and it makes the past seem close and far away at the same time.

Can you tell us how that work came to be? Why did Charas invite you and other artists to paint the walls outside the building? 

We painted these murals — with Charas’ permission — because the building was facing eviction, and this was a form of protest. Our group, World War 3 Arts In Action, was an artist collective formed to provide signs and banners for the protests against the invasion of Iraq. It included Christopher Cardinales, Sharron Kwik, Samantha Wilson, Carlo Quispe, Diane Jarvis, and others. 

We volunteered to paint these murals ... We started in the afternoon and continued into the evening. Eventually, the police stopped us saying, “No graffiti!” out of a loudspeaker. We did not consider this to be graffiti because we had Charas’ permission. We complied with the police order to avoid creating an incident that might reflect negatively on Charas.
Can you walk us through the story of the child’s drawing referenced in the work? You’ve held on to that piece since the early 1980s. How has it informed the art you created at that time? 

In 1983, an older community organizer, Fred Siedan, started the art classes at Charas with Lupe Garnica’s nonprofit, Chicana Raza Group of the Performing Arts, acting as an umbrella organization and occasionally providing a very small amount of funding. 

A number of artists were concerned about the role of art galleries in gentrifying the Lower East Side. We wanted to find positive ways for artists to work with the community. Eric Drooker and Paula Hewitt Amram had organized a tenant union called Angry NOHO Tenants or ANT. 

I was involved in a rent strike in my building. Sabrina Jones was working with a feminist art group called Carnival Knowledge that had studio space in Charas. We all worked on the magazine World War 3 Illustrated and did political postering and stencil graffiti in the neighborhood. 

Seidan invited us to teach classes. He said the real purpose of these art classes was to keep the kids away from the drug operation, which dominated the blocks around Charas. Parents would bring us all their kids, from toddlers to teenagers. 

Classes were very orderly because the older kids kept their younger siblings in line. Kids liked the classes so much that sometimes I would be walking through the neighborhood, and a group of children would stop me and ask, “When are we gonna have art class again?” 

One day I walked into class and saw this group of very small children sitting in one corner talking quietly to one another. Now that’s unusual, small kids talking quietly. So I listened in. The kids had found the body of a woman who had been decapitated. They were telling each other about this. Trying to describe it. Trying to figure out what it meant. 

I was fascinated by their plain but forceful language, without adjectives, value judgments or cliches. One of the kids eventually painted this wild picture of a screamy-faced woman. At the time, I was trying to do political art, but my real influences were comic books and science fiction illustrations. I really had not found my voice as a writer. 

After hearing the kids, I resolved to learn to write the way they talked and to draw the way they drew. The result was an account of my own witness to violence on the streets of New York called “I Saw A Man Bleed To Death,” which was the beginning of the art and writing style most people associate with my work. I owe a lot to those kids.
When was the last time you were inside Charas and what do you hope becomes of the building? 

The last time I was in Charas was as part of a protest against the murder of Brad Will. A crowd broke in and held the building for about an hour. 

Charas was where the East Village art scene met the Nuyorican art scene, but always on terms set by Puerto Rican community organizers. New York still needs a place like that.
As previously reported, ownership of the property is in transition. In January, Supreme Court Justice Melissa Crane ruled that Madison Realty Capital could move forward with a foreclosure against building landlord Gregg Singer after years of delay. 

Madison Realty Capital reportedly provided Singer with a $44 million loan on the property in 2016. Court records show that he failed to repay the balance by its maturity date in April 2016, and by that September, the lender filed to foreclose, as reported by The Real Deal.

Singer bought the property during a city auction in 1998 for $3.15 million. He has wanted to turn the building into a dorm, though those plans never materialized. There has been a call to return the building for community use in years past. 

The building became the Charas/El Bohio Community Center after the school left in 1977. The group was evicted in December 2001 when Singer took over as the landlord. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Another rally to return the former P.S. 64 to the community

Photos by Peter Brownscombe 

On Sunday afternoon, several local elected officials, community activists and residents gathered on Avenue B at Ninth Street to rally for the return of the former P.S. 64 (aka CHARAS/El Bohio) to the community ...
Last month, Supreme Court Justice Melissa Crane ruled that Madison Realty Capital can move forward with a foreclosure against building landlord Gregg Singer after years of delay. 

When this news circulated, several sources EVG spoke with said that the report was expected. At this point, though, sources said what happens next, or what this means for the future of the building, is anyone's guess. 

However, the answer is clear for the group members — nearly 100 strong — in attendance Sunday afternoon.

"CHARAS was the heart of the community, where all could gather, learn, create and celebrate," said Chino Garcia, co-founder, CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center. "We urge the city to seize this opportunity to right the wrongs of the Giuliani administration in sending CHARAS to auction and restore this once vital institution." 

The building at 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C became the CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center after the school left in 1977. The group was eventually evicted in December 2001 when Singer took over as the landlord. (He bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998 for $3.15 million.)

Singer has wanted to build a dorm here.

As Gothamist reported, a rep for Singer distributed a press release at the rally stating that "if approved, the dormitory plan would inject more than $20 million into the economy of the local community. The developer blamed local politicians for halting development and creating 'a vacant eyesore in the community.'"

There has been a call to return the building for community use in years past. Given this movement some hope: then-Mayor de Blasio's statement at a Town Hall on Oct. 12, 2017, 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." 

Those plans have never materialized, and it has sat empty these past 20-plus years.

It's not known where Mayor Adams may stand on the issue. 

Meanwhile, other local elected officials made their feelings known...
Tonight at 6:30, CB3's Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee will receive an update from the Charas Steering Committee. The public may attend via Zoom at this link. (This is the fourth item on the agenda.)

Friday, November 3, 2017

On Monday, a rally for the former P.S. 64 at City Hall


[Photo from October]

Community activists, preservationists and local elected officials remain cautiously optimistic over Mayor de Blasio's recent statement that his administration would take steps to reacquire the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C.

On that note... via a Facebook invite:

Join Us As We Mark the Anniversary of the late Community Leader and CHARAS Co-Founder Armando Perez’s birthday and Celebrate the Mayor’s Announcement of His Intent to Reacquire CHARAS!

RALLY & PRESS CONFERENCE
CITY HALL STEPS
Monday, Nov. 6
Noon

With speakers Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Carlina Rivera, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly member Brian Kavanaugh, Senator Brad Hoylman, Carlos ‘Chino Garcia, CHARAS, Inc., Andrew Berman, GVSHP, Laura Sewell, EVCC and others!

Find more details here.

A spokesperson for owner Gregg Singer, who bought the property from the city in 1998, responded that he has no plans to sell the building. The spokesperson, who said that the city is being a bully, told DNAinfo the appraised value of the property is $60 million, and that Singer "has already poured $80 million into upkeep."

Singer, who wants to turn the landmarked property into a dorm called University Square, continues in a holding pattern while the DOB has a Stop Work Order on the building.

Previously on EV Grieve:
During Town Hall, Mayor announces city's interest in re-acquiring former P.S. 64

At the rally for the former PS 64 today at City Hall

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A look at the former P.S. 64



The former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C is back in the news after Mayor de Blasio said that his administration would take steps to reacquire the building.

This surprise announcement came during the District 2 Town Hall last Thursday night at P.S. 188, the Island School.

De Blasio didn't expound on the topic any further that night. His spokesperson didn't offer any specifics to follow-up queries from DNAinfo.

A spokesperson for owner Gregg Singer, who bought the property from the city in 1998, said that he has no plans to sell the building. The spokesperson, who said that the city is being a bully, told DNAinfo the appraised value of the property is $60 million, and that Singer "has already poured $80 million into upkeep."

Singer, who wants to turn the landmarked property into a dorm called University Square, continues in a holding pattern while the DOB has a Stop Work Order on the building.

Here are some photos of the building from this past weekend... starting with the 10th Street side...









... and the Ninth Street side...









The wheat-paste posters are nearly 8-inches thick on the plywood...





Preservationist groups and other residents have been opposed to Singer's plans, and want to see a return of the landmarked building to use as a cultural and community center.

As seen on the fence at La Plaza Cultural down on Ninth and C...



The DNAinfo piece also quotes East Village resident Jorge de Yarza, who co-owns the cafe Donostia on Avenue B between Ninth Street and 10th Street. Accordonig to DNAinfo, "he helped gather roughly 900 signatures from locals living within a mile of it in support of the dorm plan, asking the city to allow it to move forward."

"We think this is a completely personal issue with a very vocal minority in my community and we have proved that the vast majority of the immediate community is in favor of this building permit going through as a dorm for Adelphi, because bottom line is it's a 100,000-square-foot eyesore that has been there forever for no reason."

According to the Lo-Down, de Yarza helped Singer support candidates running against Carlina Rivera in District 2’s City Council race last month. Rivera, who won the race, is an ally of outgoing Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who has long opposed the dorm plan.

In an interview with the Lo-Down, Singer's attorney, David Schwartz, "alluded to the possibility of a lawsuit to force the city to sign off on the dorm plan, but expressed hopes that Mendez’s successor will 'do what’s right for the community.'"

In a comment on the previous EVG post on this topic, someone wrote, "To find out the truth regarding 605 E. 9th street see: www.oldps64.com" and signed it Gregg Singer. That website has background on the building, at least from Singer's perspective.

Previously on EV Grieve:
During Town Hall, Mayor announces city's interest in re-acquiring former P.S. 64

Friday, October 13, 2017

[Updated] During Town Hall, Mayor announces city's interest in re-acquiring former P.S. 64



Mayor de Blasio and outgoing City Councilmember Rosie Mendez co-hosted a Town Hall last night at P.S. 188, The Island School, on East Houston Street.

EVG regular Peter Brownscombe shared these photos and this one item of particular interest:

During the proceedings, de Blasio said that a mistake had been made in the past and his administration would take steps to reacquire the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C.

The Lo-Down was there, and here is the full P.S. 64 quote:

…the decision made a long time ago by the Giuliani administration was a mistake. For the Giuliani administration to put that building into private hands failed miserably, and we’ve seen the negative effect that has had on the community. So I’m announcing tonight, the city’s interest in re-acquiring that building. We are ready to right the wrongs of the past and will work with Council member Mendez and her successor (almost certainly Carlina Rivera) to get that done.

The mayor did not expound on this.

Some background on this ongoing story. Developer Gregg Singer, who bought the property from the city in 1998, had reportedly been pushing de Blasio's administration to remove a stop-work order that has been in place since 2015.

According to public records, Singer is continuing to retain lobbyist Jim Capalino, a former de Blasio ally, for the remainder of 2017.



Among Capalino's lobbying targets: the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development and the Office of the First Deputy Mayor. Capalino, according to a New York Daily News story in March 2016, steered $50,000 to de Blasio after pushing the city to lift the deed restriction at the Rivington House. (The mayor said in August 2016 that he has cut off contact with the lobbyist in the wake of multiple investigations into his administration, per Politico.)

It was previously reported that Singer has a signed lease with Adelphi University, with hopes of having students move in by the fall of 2018. That move-in no longer seems plausible given the current state of the building.

Preservationist groups and other residents have been opposed to Singer's plans, and want to see a return of the landmarked building to use as a cultural and community center.

Updated 6:30 p.m.

DNAinfo has a comment from Singer's spokesperson.

...Singer has no intention of selling the building, according to his spokeswoman, who said the property is appraised at $60 million and that the owner has already poured $80 million into upkeep.

"Singer has absolutely no plans to give the 'building' back," spokeswoman Nicole Epstein wrote in an email. "The city is trying to be a bully here."







... and you can watch the full 3-hour Town Hall here...



Previously on EV Grieve:
'Misinformation' cited as DOB issues Stop Work Order at the former PS 64; community meeting set for Sunday afternoon

At the rally for the former PS 64 today at City Hall

Monday, December 19, 2011

Video of 'CHARAS Comes Home For The Holidays' yesterday, with footage of the arrests



Here's more on yesterday's CHARAS holiday party and community potluck that ended with several arrests. Per the description from YouTube:

A community get together at CHARAS/El Bohio marking the 10th anniversary of the eviction from the building at 605 E. 9th St in the East Village/Lower East Side, New York City.

The party, led by the Hungry March Band, marched over from Tompkins Square Park to the boarded up building. Performers roped off an impromptu stage and began entertaining the crowd. Perfomers included Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping "Earthalujah" choir; Great Small Works performing "the true story of charas"; and several speakers including carlos chino garcia. The occupy wall street statue of liberty puppet also made an appearance.

At the end the crowd was asked to join in on a protest action involving banging on the blue construction fence with wooden sticks. As they did so, the police began mobilizing and several arrests were made. Gregg Singer the developer was also seen walking past the building.

The arrests start at the 21-minute mark. The Observer reported that the NYPD arrested three people.

Previously on EV Grieve:
'CHARAS Comes Home For The Holidays' ends with arrests

Will old PS 64 get a theater for nonprofit groups?

Rebranded P.S. 64 up for grabs: Please welcome University House at Tompkins Square Park to the neighborhood

'Public Assembly' for the former P.S. 64 on Friday

Sunday, December 18, 2011

'CHARAS Comes Home For The Holidays' ends with arrests

Today, members of the community as well as Occupy Wall Street came together to mark the 10th anniversary of the eviction of CHARAS (aka El Bohio Community Center) on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. (A flyer for the event is here.)

People met at noon... and, led by the Hungry March Band, paraded through Tompkins Square Park for a "holiday party and community potluck" — dubbed "Charas Comes Home For The Holidays" — on Ninth Street. Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping "Earthalujah" choir were among the performers.

Bobby Williams was along for first leg of the parade...













According to The Observer, the NYPD arrested several people on Ninth Street ... As The Observer's Henry Krempels wrote:

As the banging progressively grew louder the New York Police Department became aware of the disruption, dispatching five cars which pulled up only minutes after the drumming began. From then on, they attempted to get the situation under control, resulting in at least three arrests and numerous confrontations. Police at the scene declined to comment on what those arrested were charged with, and as The Observer was leaving one of the arrestees was let out of the car, but remained in handcuffs.

The crowd, who were ushered to the other side of the street, stood on the sidewalk chanting “Viva Charas!” and “Tear it Down!” while officers cleaned up the mess.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Will old PS 64 get a theater for nonprofit groups?

Rebranded P.S. 64 up for grabs: Please welcome University House at Tompkins Square Park to the neighborhood

'Public Assembly' for the former P.S. 64 on Friday