Resolution from CB3 Calls on de Blasio Administration to Return PS64 to the Community

December 17, 2013 Resolution from Community Board 3:

Consideration of a resolution regarding community use of the former PS64, 605 E 9th Street

VOTE: Whereas, 605 East 9th Street, the former P.S. 64 school building, also known as CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center, was a beloved community facility that served the Lower East Side community for over a hundred years; and

Whereas, for over 70 years it was a public school serving immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, as well as Latin America; and

Whereas, during the fiscal crisis of the mid-1970’s, New York City closed the school building and it was rented to the Interfaith Adopt a Building Program ; and

Whereas, in 1977, community activists, artists of CHARAS, Inc. and Interfaith Adopt-a-Building jointly formed El Bohio, a community development center, negotiated a short term, month-to-month lease with the City, and created a vibrant community center, reflective of the diversity of the Lower East Side, where local not-for-profit organizations and artists thrived for over 22 years; and

Whereas, during that period, CHARAS/El Bohio performed ongoing renovations to the building with support from both public and private funding, and innumerable hours of community volunteer labor commonly referred to as ‘Sweat Equity’; and

Whereas, in 1997, the Giuliani Administration agreed to negotiate in good faith to sell the building to the not-for-profit organization known as CHARAS/El Bohio; and

Whereas, in response, CHARAS created a comprehensive proposal, including architectural plans and funding for the restoration and purchase of the building; and

Whereas, in 1999, the City under the leadership of Mayor Rudolph Guiliani went back on its promise to negotiate in good faith and did not sell the building to the not-for-profit known as CHARAS /El Bohio (who was occupying the building), although the it did sell other city-owned buildings to the not-for-profit organizations that were occupying those buildings for the nominal sum of $1.00; then with wide-spread community opposition and against the will of elected representatives sold the former school at a public auction to a private developer; and

Whereas, as a condition of sale, the buyer was required to provide the Department of City-wide Administrative Services proof of the ability to comply with the community facility use restriction within 30 days of sale; and

Whereas, the buyer did not provide proof other than a statement comporting to comply with the use restriction; and

Whereas, after three lengthy court battles, which included a unanimous jury decision that the new owner did not intend to comply with the community use restriction, CHARAS/ El Bohio Community Center was evicted at the very close of the Giuliani Administration, on December 27, 2001; and

Whereas, since the eviction in 2001, the community has suffered great hardship from the displacement of the invaluable services that CHARAS / El Bohio Community Center provided; and

Whereas, in 2004, the owner filed plans to demolish the building to construct a 20-story dormitory, “University House”, though the owner had no accredited educational institution participation; and

Whereas, after a concerted community effort, the NYC Department of Buildings denied the demolition permit, based on Rule 51-01 that governs the Classification of Student Dormitories, requiring submission of a full lease by an accredited educational institution for a minimum of 10 years, and a restrictive declaration that the building would only be used as a dormitory; and

Whereas, in an unprecedented community campaign, in 2006, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Former P.S. 64 school building as a landmark, recognizing both its physical, cultural and historical distinction; and

Whereas, after the landmark designation, the owner removed the building’s cornices and dormers, as well as removed the architectural detail at the roof line, leaving the building open to the elements; and

Whereas, the owner has allowed the building to fall into extreme disrepair; and

Whereas, the DOB has issued over 42 violations since 2008, including the failure to maintain the premises; and

Whereas, the owner currently owes the City of New York approximately $30,000 in unpaid penalties for ECB violations; and

Whereas, in 2012, again the owner filed to convert the building to a dormitory; and

Whereas, the owner’s current application for dormitory use does not meet the NYC Department of Buildings’ criteria for a dormitory under Rule 51-01, as there is no lease for the entirety of the facility with one or more accredited educational institution for a minimum of 10 years, nor is there a restrictive declaration that the building will be used exclusively as a dormitory; and

Whereas, it has been 14 years since the auction sale and the owner has been unable to comply with the conditions of sale to develop a community facility; and 3

Whereas, since the sale and privatization of 605 East 9th Street, the community has faced displacement of vital community services, community organizations and community space; and

Whereas, the building has not been properly maintained by the current owner and has become a threat to public safety due to, among other things, a lack of proper snow and ice removal and a failure to consistently maintain construction scaffolding; so

Therefore, be it known that Community Board 3 requests that the new mayoral administration return the former P.S. 64 school building to the community by legally retrieving and then selling or giving it to a well-established not-for-profit organization(s) with a long history of serving the people of the Lower East Side/East Village including, but not limited to restoring the not-for-profit organization known as CHARAS / El Bohio to the building located at 605 East 9th Street.

From the Archives: Video history of Old P.S. 64

While we await a decision on the dorm conversion proposal at Old P.S. 64, we look back at the work that preserved this magnificent community structure. The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building an individual landmarks thanks to its many architectural and cultural merits. Brush up on the building’s history with this video from our archives:

Old P.S. 64: A History

Community Board 3 Passes Resolution on P.S. 64

CHARAS (old PS 64) 605 E 9th St – plans for community use

VOTE: Whereas, the former PS 64, also known as Charas-El Bohio, located at 605 E. 9th Street, is a beloved community building that has served the Lower East Side since it was built more than a hundred years ago; and

Whereas, for nearly 70 years it was a public school serving as both an educational and cultural center for immigrants first from eastern and southern Europe and then from Latin America; and

Whereas, in the mid-1970’s after New York City closed the school, community activists and artists took over the building to create a vibrant community center where local non-profit organizations and artists of all kinds could thrive; and

Whereas, over vehement community opposition Mayor Giuliani in 1999 sold the former PS 64 to a developer who then evicted the community center; and

Whereas, after an unprecedented community campaign, in 2006 the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Former PS 64 as a landmark recognizing both its physical and cultural distinction; and

Whereas, the developer who acquired the building from the city, and is now proposing to convert it to student housing, has shown gross negligence in the maintenance of the building, has been antagonistic toward the community, and completely unwilling to work constructively toward a solution to the impasse over the future of the building; and

Whereas, the current proposal for student housing does not meet the NYC Department of Buildings’ criteria for a dormitory under the community facility definition in the zoning ordinance because there is no long term lease for all of the facility with one or more accredited educational institution nor is there a restrictive declaration that the building will only be used as a dormitory;

Now therefore, Community Board 3 very strongly opposes the current proposal for conversion of the Former PS 64 to student housing;

And further, Community Board 3 strongly favors a proposal that would result in the building becoming a genuine community facility and cultural center consistent with the building’s history in our neighborhood.

Landmarks hears P.S. 64 on Tuesday, 3pm

The battle to reclaim old P.S. 64/ Charas for the East Village community continues. On Tuesday afternoon, the Landmarks Commission will vote on a series of changes to old P.S. 64/Charas/El Bohio. Approval from the LPC is required to move forward the owner’s plan for a 500-bed dormitory. We demand a better plan for old P.S. 64, one that serves the community.

Take action!

Sign the petition 

Speak out

Tuesday, May 7th, 3pm: Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th floor

LPC will consider alterations to the front and and back courtyards, windows, and the roof.
Review the drawings. Delivery your testimony to the commissioners on Tuesday afternoon or submit written testimony to comments@lpc.nyc.gov. Read our sample letter.

Wednesday, May 8th, 6:30pm: Community Board 3 – Land Use Committee Meeting
56 Essex Street (Broome and Grand)

Plan for community use at former P.S. 64/ Charas

Wednesday, May 15th, 6pm: March from P.S. 64 to Cooper Union

Meet on 9th Street (Avenues B & C)

Return P.S. 64 to the Community

evcc images 007_smThe Department of Buildings is currently reviewing an application to convert former P.S. 64/ Charas into a 500-bed dormitory. The Cooper Union has entered into an agreement with the developer to take a portion of the building for student housing. We reject the proposal to use P.S 64 as a dorm.

COMMUNITY USE – NOT DORMS

Sign on to demand that the building be returned to the community!

Return PS64 to the Community

Respect our community. Respect this community treasure: Old P.S. 64

located at 605 East 9th Street.

Old P.S. 64, a designated New York City landmark, has a long and valued

history serving our community. This building could easily serve our

community again. Dormitory use of this building does not serve our

community. Cooper Union should not house  students in old P.S. 64.

We ask that old P.S. 64 be returned to use for our community.

Sign here

P .S. 64 Image Archive

Have photos of the building from the past twenty years? Email director.evccnyc@gmail.com to add them to our archive. Include the month, year, and name of photographer.

Read more about the history of P.S. 64 and our work to protect the building.

APPROVED: East Village/ Lower East Side Historic District

East 7th Street
East 7th Street

The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted on October 9th to create the East Village/ Lower East Side Historic District. Effective immediately, the new district will help protect many cultural resources, religious structures, and contiguous streetscapes that define our historic neighborhood. A comprehensive district had been long overdue in the East Village; previously, our only districts included the block-long East 10th Street Historic District (2012) and the St. Mark’s Historic District (1969, 1984).

Read  the designation report.

Thanks to the local and state elected officials, community groups, community board, and individual residents for their unwavering support. And we thank you for your attention throughout this long process. The commission’s responsiveness resulted from the urgency shown through your commitment, contributions, and testimony.

We celebrate the overwhelmingly positive remarks from most commissioners during the vote, but our work is not complete. The Landmarks Preservation Commission unexpectedly removed properties along First Avenue from the proposed map prior to the vote. After years of advocacy and organizing, the district must be upheld in its entirety by the City Council. EVCC will work with Councilmember Rosie Mendez and other community organizations to be certain we promote each of the 300+ structures designated by LPC. Your support today will help us protect the newborn district and aid preservation efforts in other portions of the East Village.

Sample Letter to Landmarks Preservation Commission Regarding Old P.S. 64/ Charas

Send your testimony to LPC by Monday, May 6th by mail or to comments@lpc.nyc.gov.

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Hon. Robert Tierney
Chair, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
One Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007
rtierney@lpc.nyc.gov

Re: Certificate of Appropriateness for former P.S. 64, 605 East 9th Street, Manhattan

Dear Chair Tierney:
I urge you reject the application at former P.S. 64 located at 605 East 9th Street. The building’s significance is embodied architecturally as a premier example of the school designs of architect CBJ Snyder and is deepened by a century-long history as a resource for our community.

Many of the alterations under review are inappropriate to the historic character of the building. The bulkheads are visible from many angles, most prominently from the west along the north side of Tompkins Square Park. As proposed, they will detract from the cohesive roofline, an important and surviving component of the original design.

The interior spaces and historic courtyards at old P.S. 64 provided open space to a neighborhood with a serious need for such space. For the past 11 years, the community has been locked out of a now vacant and decaying structure. The new gates planned along 9th Street will officially close off the courtyard that had historically been accessible.

The façade and future use of the building at this important neighborhood building must comply with its historical intent. Please deny this application out of respect for the social and architectural history at old P.S. 64.

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Sincerely,
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Cc: East Village Community Coalition

New Historic District!

East 10th Street Historic District Designated

The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved the East 10th Street Historic District on January 17th. This is only the second historic district in our community and the first since the St. Mark’s Historic District passed in 1969.

We would like to thank City Councilmember Rosie Mendez for her help in establishing this district and her ongoing work to protect our neighborhood’s architectural integrity. We would also like to thank Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, and Borough President Scott M. Stringer for testifying in support of this district, and Community Board 3 for passing a resolution in support. Finally, we would like to thank our neighbors and neighborhood preservation organizations for their help.

East 10th Street
East 10th Street

Our work is not done. The LPC has yet to schedule a hearing for the proposed Lower East Side/East Village Historic District. This district will protect nearly 300 buildings from inappropriate alteration and/or demolition. Please email the LPC to urge them to set a date right away!

LES/East Village Historic District

The EVCC has advocated for years for landmarks protection of the LES/East Village. In July, Community Board 3 voted to support the two proposed historic districts in our neighborhood. Historic Districts preserve architectural character and protect neighborhoods from inappropriate alteration, demolition, and out-of-scale development. The next step is a hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). We will alert you when LPC sets a date for the hearing. UPDATE: The East 10th Street Historic District was designated by LPC on January 17th. LPC has set June 26, 2012 as the hearing date for the proposed LES/East Village Historic District.

july 2011 lpc proposed district 2nd aver
full_july 2011 lpc proposed district 10th streetr

City To Consider Historic Districts

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) released plans for two historic districts in our neighborhood. The districts being considered are Tompkins Square North (E 10th Street between Avenue A & Avenue B) and E 2nd Street to E 7th Street between Bowery and Avenue A.

lpc east 10th street_study area r2

lpc east village_study area r2