Showing posts with label Gregg Singer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gregg Singer. Show all posts

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Long-vacant P.S. 64 now being pitched for medical use, educational purposes

Photo from July by Stacie Joy

The former P.S. 64 at 605 E. Ninth St., a point of contention in the neighborhood for the past 20-plus years, is now being offered for use as medical space or educational-related purposes. 

An EVG tipster points us to a new listing from late last week at LoopNet. According to the listing, 156,000 square feet of space is available for sale or lease here between Avenue B and Avenue C via Wexler Healthcare Properties at the Corcoran Group.
The listing states: 
The redevelopment and historic restoration of this century-old landmark, a former New York City elementary school, can be transformed into a variety of modern, amenity-rich opportunities, including:  
• Student Dormitories
• Education Center College
• Satellite Campus 
• Medical Center 
• Nursing Home 
• Assisted Living
The listing also notes that the property "can be made Article 28 compliant" and "leasehold condo structure considered."

The building became the CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center after the school left in 1977. 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.

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.

Now we're back to some familiar proposed uses for the space. 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.) 

There was also a moment when the building could have been used for medical purposes: In March 2020, Singer reportedly offered the building to the city for use in treating patients with COVID. The city declined.

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).


The five-story building has been vacant for 20-plus years.

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. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Showing the former P.S. 64 some love during rally and press conference this Sunday

Photo from last month by Stacie Joy 

With the fate of the long-vacant former P.S. 64 at 605 E. Ninth St. up in the air, a group of locals is hosting a rally and press conference here on Sunday afternoon between Avenue B and Avenue C.

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 news circulated that the forclosure could move forward, several sources EVG spoke with said that the news was not unexpected. However, at this point, sources said, what happens next, or what this means for the future of the building, is anyone's guess. 

Here's more about the rally Sunday afternoon via the EVG inbox: 
Join SOCCC-64, elected officials, community orgs, artists and activists this Valentine's Day eve to ask the City to return our beloved community and cultural center, CHARAS / El Bohio. 
This is an urgent call, as developer Gregg Singer, who purchased the building that housed CHARAS, former P.S. 64 at public auction in 2001, is now in default of his mortgage and is in foreclosure! 
We are rallying to urge the City to work with us to return our center, and we need everyone's help to make it a reality.
The rally starts at 1 p.m.

Some history. The building 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. 

Singer, who bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998 for $3.15 million, has wanted to turn the building into a dorm. (The DOB maintains a Stop Work Order on the property.)

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.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Report: Madison Realty Capital can proceed with takeover of long-empty P.S. 64

Photos last week by Stacie Joy

After 23 years of sitting in disrepair, there may finally be a new chapter for the long-vacant former P.S. 64 at 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C. 

Last week, as The Real Deal first reported, 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. 

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 TRD

Per a Madison statement
"Madison aims to work productively with borrowers. However, in this case, the borrower has refused to make good on his commitments for more than three years, leaving us with no choice but to enforce our rights and remedies."

In an email to TRD, Singer said that he still planned to move forward with developing the site "and will inform the court at the appropriate time."

He continued: "In the end, we believe even [Madison Realty Capital] will be happy. This will be a great asset for the community, which is highly desirable and in great need."

In her ruling, the judge stated "that Singer had failed to raise any material issues to dispute Madison Realty Capital's arguments, citing a 25-page response that lacked a table of contents and amounted to a 'rambling litany of defenses.'"

 

The building 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. 

Singer, who bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998 for $3.15 million, has wanted to turn the building into a dorm. (The DOB maintains a Stop Work Order on the property.)

In years past, there has been a call to return the building for community use. 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. It has sat empty these past 20-plus years.

When news circulated late last week that the forclosure could move forward, several sources EVG spoke with said that the news was not unexpected. However, at this point, sources said, what happens next, or what this means for the future of the building, is anyone's guess.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Speaking out for the return of the former P.S. 64 to the community

Photos by Stacie Joy

This past Saturday afternoon, local elected officials, residents and supporters commemorated the 20th anniversary of the eviction of the Charas/El Bohio Community & Cultural Center at 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C.

Several speakers, including longtime neighborhood activists and past and present elected officials, called on the city to take action to immediately "stop the destruction of the building," the former P.S. 64

Developer Gregg Singer, who bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998, has wanted to turn the building into a dorm called University Square. The DOB continues to maintain a Stop Work Order on the property. 

In years past, there has been a call for the return of the building for community use. The building 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. It has sat empty these past 20 years, causing locals to be concerned about its crumbling façade 

Given this movement some hope: Mayor Bill 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.

EVG correspondent Stacie Joy was there on Saturday...
"What happened to CHARAS should never happen again, especially to an institution that served the community for so many years," said Carlos "Chino" Garcia, co-founder of Charas. "This was not just the destruction of a facility that served artists, community organizations and residents, but the total destruction of a community." 
"In 2017, my neighbors and I were so thrilled when Mayor de Blasio announced he would work to help get CHARAS El Bohio back," said John Blasco, District Leader, 74th AD Part A. "Since then, we have not had any support from the administration to make this a reality. The pandemic has had a detrimental impact on programs and services for all New Yorkers. If there was ever a great time to bring back a cultural community center to Loisaida, that time is now."
"On the 20th anniversary ... we're renewing our call to Mayor de Blasio to take action on his 2017 promise," said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein. "As someone who personally attends meetings at Charas, I know the historic and vital impact this previous cultural center has on our community. If de Blasio fails, I'll stand ready to call on the next administration to take action."
Previously on EV Grieve:

Friday, November 5, 2021

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the eviction of the Charas/El Bohio Community & Cultural Center

A group of community leaders, local elected officials and residents will gather tomorrow (Saturday) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the eviction of the Charas/El Bohio Community & Cultural Center.

We've written a lot about what has (and mostly HAS NOT) transpired here through the years here at 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C. (The commemoration looks to be happening on the 10th Street side of the building starting at 12:30.)

Here's a recap via the office of District 2 City Councilmember Carlina Rivera:
Lower East Side elected officials, residents, and artists rally to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the eviction of Charas/El Bohio Community & Cultural Center to call on the City to take action to immediately stop the destruction of the building.
 
For over 20 years, Charas/El Bohio Community & Cultural Center provided arts, community and nonprofit space for the Lower East Side and greater New York City area. Mayor Rudy Giuliani auctioned the city-owned building in 1998. Developer Gregg Singer purchased the building and evicted the center on Dec. 27, 2001. 
 
Two decades later, the building remains vacant and has been allowed to deteriorate to the extent the Department of Buildings issued a Full Vacant Order in 2019 for failure to maintain the property. 
 
The owner Gregg Singer has taken no significant steps to repair the damage, stabilize the building, or restore the facade, and is currently in foreclosure by mortgagor Madison Capital Realty.
 
Mayor Bill de Blasio stated at a Town Hall on Oct. 12, 2017, that the city would take steps to reacquire the building. The administration has yet to act, despite follow-up inquiries from the community coalition and its elected officials. Community activists and elected officials alike call on the City once again to take steps to save this local treasure. 
 
The rally will kick off hours of street performances by local artists, poets and musicians that showcase our decades-long efforts to return this once-vibrant center to the community.
As previously reported, Singer has wanted to turn the building into a dorm called University Square. The DOB continues to maintain a Stop Work Order — dating to August 2015 — on the property. 

In years past, several local elected officials, community activists and residents have asked for the return of the building for community use. The building became the Charas/El Bohio Community & Cultural Center after the school left in 1977. The group was eventually evicted when Singer took over as the landlord. It has sat empty these past 20 years, causing locals to be concerned about its crumbling façade, among other issues

This link features Singer's POV on what has transpired with the building.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Photo from March by Stacie Joy

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Report: Locals fear the 'crumbling' former P.S. 64

 
The Daily News reports that residents and local preservationists have concerns that the long-vacant P.S. 64 building — described as "crumbling" — on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C poses a threat to the community.

Per the News:
Village Preservation executive director Andrew Berman said the building’s sorry state resembles that of 729 Seventh Ave. in Midtown — now the center of a contentious lawsuit over the death of a woman struck by debris that fell some 15 stories from a crumbling façade.

“We don’t want another situation like [that], where a combination of owner and city neglect leaves a dangerous situation unaddressed and an innocent bystander suffers the consequences. Conditions at this building are ripe for just such a tragedy,” Berman said.

Carolyn Ratcliffe, the president of the 9 BC Tompkins Square Block Association, lives next door to the building. Dreading the possibility of an accident, she makes a point to always walk on the other side of the street when nearby.
And the response from landlord Gregg Singer?
His lawyer Nicole Epstein said comparing Singer’s sorry building to the Midtown tragedy was unfair, given that he’s built a sidewalk shed at the property. Neighbors complaining about its condition had also opposed Singer’s proposals to develop the property into college dorms, she noted.

“It’s quite ironic and hypocritical,” Epstein said.
On Feb. 6, 2019, the city evacuated adjacent buildings after discovering cracks at the onetime CHARAS/El Bohio community center ... and later issued a Full Vacate Order.

City inspectors eventually determined that the building was safe, but did issue a violation to Singer for failure to maintain the exterior facade, per Curbed

Singer told Curbed at the time: "It’s all political. This is part of a concerted effort to put pressure on us. I was just at the building. There's definitely cracks — that we were already aware of — that will be pointed and repaired, but there’s no immediate danger."

Singer, who bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998, has wanted to turn the building into a dorm called University Square. The DOB continues to maintain a Stop Work Order — dating to August 2015 — on the building. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Report: Gregg Singer offers former P.S. 64 for use as a medical facility during COVID-19 crisis



ICYMI: Controversial landlord Gregg Singer has offered to donate the former P.S. 64 on Ninth Street to the city for use to potentially treat patients infected with the coronavirus.

As Crain's first reported, Singer conveyed his offer in a letter to Mayor de Blasio as well as to the offices of Gov. Cuomo and President Trump.

According to published reports, the city is seeking potential medical surge facilities, such as hotels, dorms and even the Javits Convention Center.

The city dismissed the offer to use the derelict building that has been vacant for more than 20 years between Avenue B and Avenue C.

“We’re not interested,” the spokeswoman told Crain’s “It doesn’t meet our needs.”

The building looks to be in disrepair, with broken windows and a crack in the facade on the western corner of the landmarked building.

However:

“We have an engineer’s report stating the building is safe,” Singer said. “It’s like when you build a makeshift hospital or triage center in an open field. This would be the same thing here, but indoors.”

Singer bought the property — the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center — from the city during an auction in 1998. You can read the archives for more on the long history here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Former PS 64 not subject to the city’s new crackdown on deteriorating buildings


[10th Street side]

The Department of Buildings recently put into place an amended rule governing exterior wall inspections and repairs for owners of buildings higher than six floors who fail to upkeep their properties.

This change came about after architect Erica Tishman was killed by falling debris from a Midtown office building in December.

However, as the Daily News reported, this new rule doesn't apply to the long-vacant P.S. 64 on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C.

Per the News:

Because the school is lower than six stories and now has the proper protections up, including several sidewalk sheds, it won’t be newly scrutinized, building officials said.

"Stabilization work in the building has been performed, and the Department of Buildings continues to closely monitor the situation to protect pedestrians," said Jane Meyer, a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio.

But the vacate order from last February is still active, DOB records show — which leave people who live nearby skeptical of the city’s claims.

"There's a lack of oversight that is going on," said Carolyn Ratcliffe, 77, who is president of the 9 BC Tompkins Square Block Association. "We really feel like we're being blown off."

Read the full article here.


[9th Street side]

Developer Gregg Singer bought the property — the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center — from the city during an auction in 1998. The landmarked building has been empty for years. You can read the archives for more on the long history here.

Monday, October 14, 2019

A lawsuit dismissal and 2-year anniversary at the former P.S. 64



Over the weekend, several community activists noted the two-year anniversary of Mayor de Blasio's pledge to return help the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C to the community.

During a town hall forum at P.S. 188 on Oct. 12, 2017, de Blasio said that the Giuliani administration should not have auctioned off the property, and that he would work to "right the wrongs of the past," as DNAifno reported at the time.

"For the administration to put that building into private hands failed miserably, and we’ve seen the negative affect that that has had on the community. So I'm announcing tonight the city's interest in re-acquiring that building," de Blasio said, eliciting cheers from the audience.



The mayor brought up P.S. 64 again in the late summer of 2018 during a media roundtable at Brooklyn Borough Hall. There, de Blasio said that property owner Gregg Singer "has been exceedingly uncooperative" about selling the building back to the city, as The Villager reported. However, Singer told Patch that he hadn't heard from anyone at the mayor's office about the property.

Back on Feb. 7, local elected officials gathered outside the building and urged the city to reclaim the property for community use. The building was also the focus of a recent town hall hosted by Community Board 3's Arts & Cultural Affairs Subcommittee.

Singer has wanted to turn the building into a dorm called University Square. The DOB continues to maintain a Stop Work Order — dating to August 2015 — on the building.

To date, Singer has filed two lawsuits against the city, claiming that the de Blasio administration is derailing his dorm-converting efforts.

According to the East Village Community Coalition (EVCC), the first lawsuit, brought against the city in early 2018, was dismissed on Sept. 30.

Per an email from the EVCC:

As respects the federal constitutional and statutory claims, the court agreed with the defendants' position in a thorough 48-page opinion, which closely analyzes — and rejects — each of Mr. Singer's allegations of federal constitutional and statutory violations.

While this is as complete a victory as could be expected, it is our understanding that Mr. Singer's team has filed an appeal, which the defendants will oppose.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Last-minute notice about a PS 64 town hall tonight



There was very little advance notice about this... Community Board 3's Arts & Cultural Affairs Subcommittee is hosting a town hall this evening about the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C.

It happens from 6:30 to 9 at the Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. between Ninth Street and 10th Street.

The flyer promises an array of local elected officials, including State Sen. Brad Hoylman and City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, as well as city officials. Is the Mayor really going to be there?

CB3's September meetings included mention that the Arts & Cultural Affairs Subcommittee was finalizing plans for a town hall tonight. But we never heard anything about the event. There haven't been any notices in the local press or email invites from CB3. I found the flyer on the bottom of the CB3 website — only after seeing it this morning on the La Plaza Cultural Instagram account.

On Feb. 7, local elected officials gathered outside the building and urged the city to reclaim the property for community use. Read more background about the long-vacant property here.

Property owner Gregg Singer recently filed another lawsuit against the city.

Monday, September 9, 2019

This week in CB3 committee meetings: plans for P.S. 64 town hall, updates on Mount Sinai Beth Israel's new hospital



A few items of interest this week at Community Board 3 committee meetings (aside from the SLA), which are open to the public to attend:

Monday (tonight!)
Arts & Cultural Affairs Subcommittee
6:30 p.m., Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. between Ninth Street and 10th Street

• The committee is finalizing plans for a town hall about the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. This event will take place on Sept. 23 at Theater for the New City. We'll update when the details of the town hall are made public.

On Feb. 7, local elected officials gathered outside the building and urged the city to reclaim the property for community use. Read more background about the long-vacant property here.



Tuesday (tomorrow!)
Transportation, Public Safety, & Environment Committee
6:30 p.m., University Settlement at Houston Street Center, 273 Bowery

• There's an informational presentation on Mount Sinai Beth Israel's new hospital at 302 E. 14th St. and 311-315 E. 13 St. Mount Sinai reps will provide info about the loading zone, traffic and construction plans.

As previously reported in the fall of 2016, the Mount Sinai Health System is in the midst of its years-long project to rebuild Mount Sinai Beth Israel, transitioning to a network of smaller facilities throughout lower Manhattan.

The plans include an expanded facility on 14th Street and Second Avenue, which includes a new 7-story hospital on 13th Street. In July, Mount Sinai Beth Israel officials released more details on their "$1 billion downtown transformation," which you can read about at this link.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Repair work continues at the former P.S. 64



Work continues at the former P.S. 64 on 10th Street between Avenue B and Avenue C.

A reader shared these photos from yesterday, showing a crew working on the exterior facade on the western corner of the landmarked building...



Workers were first spotted here last Tuesday.

Another reader shared these photos... offering a rare glimpse inside the long-vacant property...





Workers at the scene offered that they'd be here for about 10 days to restore the building's corners to maintain their structural integrity.

On Feb. 6, the city evacuated adjacent buildings after discovering cracks at the old P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center ... and later issued a Full Vacate Order.

City inspectors eventually determined that the building was safe, but did issue a violation to landlord Gregg Singer for failure to maintain the exterior facade, per Curbed.

Singer told Curbed at the time: "It’s all political. This is part of a concerted effort to put pressure on us. I was just at the building. There's definitely cracks — that we were already aware of — that will be pointed and repaired, but there’s no immediate danger."

Singer, who bought the property from the city during an auction in 1998, has wanted to turn the building into a dorm called University Square. The DOB continues to maintain a Stop Work Order — dating to August 2015 — on the building.

A DOB rep told The Wall Street Journal in January 2018 that the agency twice denied the developer’s application because he “failed to submit sufficient proof that the building would be used as a student dormitory."

Singer is in the midst of a lawsuit with the city.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Crane crew spotted at the former P.S. 64 on 10th Street


[Reader-submitted photo]

Several EVG readers yesterday reported a boom lift and at least one worker giving attention to the northeast-facing facade at the former P.S. 64 on 10th Street between Avenue B and Avenue C...



This is the spot where city inspectors examined back on Feb. 6 and, a week later, issued a Full Vacate Order. This marks the first activity that neighbors have noted at the long-vacant property since then.

Developer Gregg Singer bought the property — the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center — from the city during an auction in 1998. The building has been empty for years. (Singer reportedly has an office on the premises.)

The vacate order is dated Feb. 13. According to the DOB (in their ALL-CAP STYLE):

AT VARIOUS EXPOSURES OF EDUCATIONAL FACILITY, ORNAMENTAL FACADE ELEMENTS ARE IN A STATE OF DISREPAIR WITH VISIBLE CRACKS, GAPS, AND DETERIORATION. THESE ORNAMENTAL ELEMENTS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO FALL INTO THE STREET AND YARD. IN ADDITION, INTERIOR FIRE PROOFING ARE MISSING THEREBY EXPOSING STRUCTURAL STEEL MEMBERS. THESE CONDITIONS HAVE MADE THE ENTIRE BUILDING AND YARDS UNSAFE TO OCCUPY.

City inspectors eventually determined that the building was safe, but did issue a violation to Singer for failure to maintain the exterior facade for cracks observed on the corner of the building at the third floor, as Curbed reported.

Singer told Curbed at the time: "It’s all political. This is part of a concerted effort to put pressure on us. I was just at the building. There's definitely cracks — that we were already aware of — that will be pointed and repaired, but there’s no immediate danger."

Perhaps this work yesterday was to rectify the vacate order.

Singer has wanted to turn the landmarked property into a dorm called University Square, which continues in a holding pattern while the DOB maintains a Stop Work Order — dating to August 2015 — on the building.

On Feb. 7, local elected officials gathered outside the building and urged the city to reclaim the property for community use. Singer has stated that he will not give up the building.

H/T Jason!

Friday, March 1, 2019

City issues full vacate order on former P.S. 64



A tipster shares the news that the city issued a vacate order on the long-empty P.S. 64 at 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C.

The vacate order is dated Feb. 13. According to the DOB (in their ALL-CAP STYLE):

AT VARIOUS EXPOSURES OF EDUCATIONAL FACILITY, ORNAMENTAL FACADE ELEMENTS ARE IN A STATE OF DISREPAIR WITH VISIBLE CRACKS, GAPS, AND DETERIORATION. THESE ORNAMENTAL ELEMENTS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO FALL INTO THE STREET AND YARD. IN ADDITION, INTERIOR FIRE PROOFING ARE MISSING THEREBY EXPOSING STRUCTURAL STEEL MEMBERS. THESE CONDITIONS HAVE MADE THE ENTIRE BUILDING AND YARDS UNSAFE TO OCCUPY.

Developer Gregg Singer bought the property — the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center — from the city during an auction in 1998. The building has been empty for years. However, as Allegra Hobbs wrote in an article for the Times last June, Singer has an office on the premises.

Mr. Singer visits P.S. 64 about once a week. The only part of the building not falling apart, abandoned, graffitied or coated with pigeon droppings seems to be his modest office on the first floor, decorated with pristine renderings of “University Square” — a “new college living experience,” as the brochures claim, where students would enjoy a theater, a game room, yoga studios and other amenities.

Presumably the vacate order prevents Singer from entering.

The vacate order also came one week after emergency crews examined a large crack in the building's east-facing wall on 10th Street.

City inspectors eventually determined that the building was safe, but did issue a violation to Singer for failure to maintain the exterior facade for cracks observed on the corner of the building at the third floor, as Curbed reported.

Singer later told Curbed: "It’s all political. This is part of a concerted effort to put pressure on us. I was just at the building. There's definitely cracks — that we were already aware of — that will be pointed and repaired, but there’s no immediate danger."

Singer has wanted to turn the landmarked property into a dorm called University Square, which continues in a holding pattern while the DOB maintains a Stop Work Order — dating to August 2015 — on the building.

On Feb. 7, local elected officials gathered outside the building and urged the city to reclaim the property for community use.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

A call this morning for the city to take action on the former P.S. 64

[Photo yesterday by Steven]

A 311 call yesterday morning about a crack on an east-facing exterior wall brought city inspectors to the long-empty P.S. 64 (aka CHARAS/El Bohio) at 350 E. 10th St. between Avenue B and Avenue C. Several nearby buildings were evacuated as a precaution before the city gave the all clear.

However, according to the DOB website, the city issued a violation to owner Gregg Singer for failure to maintain the exterior facade for cracks observed on the corner of the building ... plus: "loose decorative stone and cracks throughout building."

The embattled developer told Curbed: "It’s all political. This is part of a concerted effort to put pressure on us. I was just at the building. There’s definitely cracks — that we were already aware of — that will be pointed and repaired, but there’s no immediate danger."

Speaking of politics, a group of residents and local elected officials, including Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assembly member Harvey Epstein, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council District 2 member Carlina Rivera, will gather this morning at 10:30 outside the school on 10th Street to ask the city to take action on the property.

Per Rivera's office...

Following [yesterday] morning’s emergency evacuation of two residential buildings adjacent to CHARAS/El Bohio, Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, elected officials, community leaders, and neighbors will gather ... to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to immediately take action in light of these new, potential structural and safety concerns.

CHARAS/El Bohio, also known as the old P.S. 64, was auctioned off by Mayor Rudy Giuliani 20 [21] years ago and has remained vacant ever since. Singer, the purchaser and current owner has not adequately maintained this landmark building, allowing it to deteriorate to its current condition. At a Council District 2 Town Hall in 2017, Mayor de Blasio announced that his administration would take steps to re-acquire this building. No substantive updates have been provided on this issue since then.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

[Updated] Evacuations on 10th Street as inspectors examine crack in the former P.S. 64



Crews from ConEd, the FDNY and the Office of Emergency Management are on the scene along 10th Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. (The street is closed to traffic for now.)

Workers are examining a large crack in the east-facing wall of the long-empty P.S. 64.

@_elkue has been tweeting from the scene...


No word just yet about how serious this might be. The building has fallen into disrepair in recent years.


Developer Gregg Singer bought the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center property from the city during an auction in 1998.

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

You can read this post for more background on the 20-plus-year P.S. 64 drama.

Updated 7 p.m.

The city gave the all-clear earlier in the afternoon. Curbed has more here, including comments from Singer...

“It’s all political. This is part of a concerted effort to put pressure on us,” Singer told Curbed. “I was just at the building. There’s definitely cracks—that we were already aware of—that will be pointed and repaired, but there’s no immediate danger.”

After surveying the building, city inspectors determined that the building is safe but did issue a violation to Singer for failure to maintain the exterior facade for cracks observed on the corner of the building at the third floor, a DOB spokesman said.

“DOB Engineers on site have inspected the entire building, and have found that the building is not in imminent danger of collapse, and does not currently pose a danger to the public,” said DOB spokesperson Andrew Rudansky in a statement. The vacate orders at the evacuated buildings have been lifted.

Updated 7:15 p.m.

City Councilmember Carlina Rivera's office released this statement...

Following this morning’s emergency evacuation of two residential buildings adjacent to CHARAS/El Bohio, Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, elected officials, community leaders, and neighbors will gather tomorrow to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to immediately take action in light of these new, potential structural and safety concerns.

This morning, the Department of Buildings issued a violation to the owner of the long-empty former P.S. 64, Gregg Singer, for failing to maintain the building's exterior after DOB engineers found cracks in the corner of the building on the third floor. In addition to evacuating the adjacent buildings, firefighters and Con Ed officials had to be called to the scene as well.

CHARAS/El Bohio, also known as the old P.S. 64, was auctioned off by Mayor Rudy Giuliani 20 years ago and has remained vacant ever since. Singer, the purchaser and current owner has not adequately maintained this landmark building, allowing it to deteriorate to its current condition. At a Council District 2 Town Hall in 2017, Mayor de Blasio announced that his administration would take steps to re-acquire this building. No substantive updates have been provided on this issue since then.

The gathering of local elected officials starts at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow outside the building at 350 E. 10th St.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Report: Developer Gregg Singer says Mayor de Blasio lied about city's P.S. 64 outreach



During a recent media roundtable at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Mayor de Blasio said that Gregg Singer, who owns the former P.S. 64 on Ninth Street, "has been exceedingly uncooperative" about selling the building back to the city, as The Villager reported.

However, Singer told Patch that he hasn't heard from anyone at the mayor's office about the property he bought in a city auction in 1998.

Some background: During a town hall forum at P.S. 188 last October, de Blasio said that the Giuliani administration should not have auctioned off the property, and that he would work to "right the wrongs of the past," as DNAifno reported.

"For the administration to put that building into private hands failed miserably, and we’ve seen the negative affect that that has had on the community. So I'm announcing tonight the city's interest in re-acquiring that building," de Blasio said, eliciting cheers from the audience.

And during the media roundtable on Aug. 23, de Blasio said the following, as reported by The Villager:

“We’ve tried to have a productive conversation about purchase,” he said. “We’ve gotten nowhere so far. We’re not giving up. We’re working very closely with the councilmember, Carlina Rivera. I’m very frustrated with that owner.”

Eminent domain, though it may not be an immediate option, is “certainly something I want to know more about, but I had hoped the best solution here would be a direct purchase,” de Blasio explained. “That’s not off the table. It’s just we’re just not getting any cooperation so far.”

And as Patch reported last Friday afternoon:

"When I read the report that Mayor de Blasio told the media that I had been 'exceedingly uncooperative,' I was astonished at the brazenness of the mayor's lie," Singer told Patch.

"I know that politicians are not known for their strict adherence to the truth, but when someone like the mayor can claim to be frustrated because I have been uncooperative when I have not received a single email or phone call from him or anyone in his office is simply unbelievable."

Singer challenged the mayor's office to produce email and phone logs that the city has reached out to him.

Singer has said that he has no intention of selling the building, which he bought for $3.15 million. He wants to turn the landmarked property into a dorm called University Square, which continues in a holding pattern while the DOB maintains a Stop Work Order on the building.

In years past several local elected officials, community activists and residents have asked for the return of the building at 605 E. Ninth St. Avenue B and Avenue C for community use. The building became a community center after the school left in 1977. The group was evicted when Singer took over as the landlord.

Previously on Ev Grieve:
The Times explores the past, present and future of the former P.S. 64