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New York | May 19, 2004
The struggle is to stop the developer Greg Singer from tearing down the community symbol of unity and culture, that is the destruction of the El Bohio/Charas school building on 9th street and avenue B. Singer is floating the idea of building a dorm which will be higher than the adjacent Christadora building.
We need to get the different groups together and have a united front. All Singer has to do is take some of the cement decoration off the front of the building and the possible landmark status of the building is over, plus it is almost impossible to landmark a building if the landlord does not want the building to be given landmark status. We know Singer will do anything to go against some of us. For Singer to landmark his building limits his development opportunities.
But the effort to save the school and to try to landmark the school is an effort still worth fighting for. It is important for anyone, such as Michael who has tremendous contacts to reach within the system and pull the strings that he has. David Leslie who did such incredible work for the recent Capital event and was the people backbone behind FEVA last year can also pull off amazing people gatherings.
Possibly David and Michael can gather together a panel of high powered experts and authoritative people knowledgeable in architecture, historical buildings in New York, giving buildings landmark status, history of the school, and so on and make a one day educational conference at the Angel Orensanz Cultural Foundation. Parallel this as a news conference and a community organizing event. (* some of the people that were asked to help getting recognition for Maria's mother have not done anything- come on guys we need Al and Maria- Maria, Al and I know who you are. We cannot ask for use of their space and not do anything to help them).
Chino and Susan represent the Charas group. They have direct connections to the local politicians. Chino and Susan can possibly get together a statement or a news conference with the politicians. Let the city know that this school building is still, years later, a real sore spot in this community. This problem is not going to go away anytime soon. Maybe the Mayor and others of authority should take a look into this problem.
I am not even sure how legitimate the city auction was the day that Singer bought the building. There were people making false bids, the was a lot of confusion with the release of the crickets. How with all that chaos can an auction be legitimate?
I know that the Charas group did not want the radicals involved in the struggle, and I am not sure that the radicals will get involved now, but their help may be helpful- they won the squat battle. If this does turn into a battle is the city prepared to have all the police over time, and to receive a few black eyes before the RNC? Not sure. The city may be willing to get involved.
We need to have a meeting with both groups: Stop the Dorm and Charas. We need to decide how to stop the demolition of the building or any destruction of the building facade. We need spokes people from each group to step forward. Who are they? My suggestion would be David Leslie and Michael Rosen & Chino Garcia and Susan Howard.
this is my 25 cents.
JULIE | Phil & Clayton: This mornings' news flash(es). Help, guys? Time is essence here... x's anyway
MICHAEL | Dear All: We have reason to believe that Gregg Singer might be intending to demolish CHARAS in the Very near future. He just recently was issued a permit for exterior renovation, pulled by Plaza Construction, the same company that demolished Poe House @ NYU. Today, Con Ed was at CHARAS to check on the gas lines, they told Carol Irving, who saw them - which could easily be Con Ed making sure that the gas lines are off in anticipation of demolition. We saw workers outside the building, measuring things, at the end of last week. Singer knows we're working on Landmarking the building, obviously,and very well could be planning on tearing off the façade! We're reaching out to our Pliticians, and also some journalists. Time for preventative help from everyone! Please let us know who you know and what you know that might help now.
MR | Singer is clearly negotiating the DEMOLITION OF CHARAS/PS64. NO work is scheduled for the near future, that we know of. I just got off the phone with Michael Gabbay, the representative from Plaza Construction whose name is on the Permit that has just been pulled. Mr. Gabbay said that Plaza is negotiating and does not yet have a contract with 9th & 10th St LLC. He never denied that they are negotiating a contract to demolish the PS 64/CHARAS. He had plenty and plenty of opportunities to say Plaza was only negotiating to do exterior renovation. Instead, he kept saying that Plaza does not take sides, that he's been doing this work for 30 years [or similar], that he lives in NY and so on. I asked if he knows that Landmarks is considering the building. He didn't intimate one way or another, per se, but did say something like "if they do, they do."
ROLAND | Aaron's suggestion about going directly to DOB is a good ideal as well. The permit issued is #103420870-EW-OT, Job # 103430870. Issued 05/05/04 The work was approved 3/37/2003 The Contractor is Plaza Construction, The Site manager's name is Michael Gabbay. Plaza's Address is 260 Madison AVenue, NY 10016 and their phone is 849-4707. The Entire descriptive text reads: Alt@-Gc Repairs and restoration to Facade. No change to use, egress or occupancy. Whom in the DOB do we connect with...This is critical. The DOB is a Behemoth and a Sloth... we need a pal there...perhaps Kat Daly at Landmarks will know, she is the one who seems to monitor DOB's activities for Landmarks. Judy can reach her directly.
CLAYTON | There seems to be three groups vying for the El Bohio/Charas PS 64 building. As you know it is my desire for all of the groups to put their plan for the building on the table. I believe that STD will do just that this evening at the Den Of Cin.
We need to start looking for political, monetary and community support for the STD plan. I hope that everyone comes to the meeting tonight.
PHIL HARTMAN | Dear folks, Having left the last meeting early, I guess I'm out of the loop, but I'm a little surprised at where things are at right now...
First of all, bravo to Roland for reeling in many disparate ideas and forging a comprehensive scheme for the building. But I thought tonight's meeting was to formulate our conception of the future of El Bohio -- with input from everyone involved; I'm worried that people are going to feel like they're facing a fait accomplit. Beyond that, I think it would be a grievous mistake, to pitch to Susan, to Chino, to anyone with battle scars from CHARAS' fight for El Bohio, this proposal as the "CHARAS Cultural Community Center" however well-meaning it may be. This will be received as presumptuous, offensive and a confirmation of certain people's worst fears -- that their cause, and their history, are being commandeered by interlopers.
Phil nothing is a fait accomplit. There has always been suspicions about what are the motivations of STD. We have all heard the gossip and the stirrings. It is great that STD wants to help get rid of Singer. But why?
When I first got involved in this struggle, almost a month ago, I could not figure out why people were so upset about a productive group trying to help stop the building of a dorm and getting rid of Singer. So I started to ask questions. What came back was the fear of what do these people want the building for. If you go back through my old emails you will see this question- what is your plan STD? Why do you want to stop the dorm. You were in the loop Phil.
STD said that they did not want to have a plan. They wanted to include everyone, even the ants. This is ridiculous. Right! Lets Stop the Dorm and take out Singer. And then what? There were no plans. This is like Bush going to war with Iraq and not having a plan for after the war. We want to win and we want a follow-up plan, not pie in the sky.
This lack of a plan and leadership is one of the reasons that the 8th Street synagogue lost the property after saving the building from being sold. I was involved in the court case to save this building and I witnessed what happened in the aftermath.
I spoke to Alfredo after the last meeting and he was also concerned about what is the STD plan. I pressured the group to come up with a plan for the building. This is it. We now know what they want to do after the successful replacing of Singer.
You can have impute Phil. You have been the person between Chino, Susan and and the STD group. I am sure that you have been telling them what is being said at these meetings.
We have been in communication with Alfredo. Alfredo has given a list of what is really important to him. Alfredo was at the last meeting. Alfredo also wants to include Armando's wife. Nobody has a problem with this.
However it is time to start making some moves. Susan was not correct in saying that Singer cannot start to demolish the facade of the building. According to Michael and group he can start doing this demolition at anytime. Do we need to argue about this and let him start to destroy the building? Come on Phil. We need to get organized.
My suggestion would be to emphasize that this is a hypothetical document and to structure the meeting to accrue as many opinions and visions as possible. As for the name...it seems disingenuous to me to put any name on it right now, when I know that for this to have a prayer of a chance it a)cannot be called CHARAS and b)will be subject to very expensive naming rights. Perhaps for now, something generic, like "Loisaida Community Cultural Center" would do -- Bimbo, after all, did create the term "Loisaida."
This better not be some hypothetical nudge, nudge wink, wink, wasting everyone's time with a pie in the sky plan. That would be dishonest and would show complete contempt and disrespect for this community. We need to know who these people are and what is their plan.
Everyone can come tonight with a plan for their vision their dream. This is the beginning. What is the problem with that? We need to start moving forward. We have had years to make plans. Let people bring their plans tonight.
Phil we are no where near getting a name for this building. This is a suggestion to get the process started. Alfredo wants to call it the Armando Perez Community Center. The groups need to come up with their plans. We need to see in black and white what we are fighting for. We do not need Slick Willy approaches. We can bicker forever. This is the Roland Plan, which is supported by the STD group. I salute him for doing this. I could not support the group if I do not know why they want to take out Singer and buy the building. Before this plan there was no plan and nobody knew what STD is up to. I now know the plan. I know that STD will support this plan. I now know where they stand. There is a structure for a board on this plan. Community people will be on this board.
What is your plan Phil? Phil last summer I made a 600 page book for you. Every week I asked do we really need more, more, more. I asked this question- every week. You said yes, yes, yes. Bigger is better. I came in and said the book is 200 pages. You said great. I said it is going to get bigger, You said great. I said now the book is 300 pages. You said even better. Then finally we ended at 600 pages. You said perfect. There was no plan to publish this book. I did the work and I am now stuck with coming up with a plan to get the book into print. Not having a plan to publish the book created a mess for me; a night mare of work and being responsible to over 100 people who worked on the book project. . No plan= no good. I am not going to do a lot of work for someone without knowing that they have, at the very, very least a plan. We need a plan.
You can put your plan in the mix. We need to get our sights set on Singer. Lets move forward. Do you honestly believe that we can get big money support if we have no agenda, no plan. Not likely.
The real deal is that Singer is still owns the building. He still has a demolition permit, and we need to organize and move forward. To get the building from Singer requires a lot of work. Phil you have a full plate. This is a multi-million dollar deal. A multi million dollar deal! It is time to shit or get off the pot.
We have heard the gripping about Singer and the building long enough. These people are building an army and moving forward. They now have a plan. If you have changes to make on the plan you have today to think about it and come up with something else. We need action. Bring your own plan. That is what this meeting was for... to talk about plans. SO I assume that you were coming with a plan. This is the Roland plan.
Lets stop all the bickering and do something. Margarita and all the politicians are offering their help. Soon there will be an election and we will have some new politicians. We will have to start over getting the new politicians support all over again. what is the point?
That's my two cents...spend it as you choose. Thanks again to Roland, and to anyone else who labored to put this together. I'm around today, if anyone needs me, otherwise, I'll see you tonight.
Phil we need much more than 2 cents- we need millions of dollars. You have today to come with changes to this plan, and/or come in with your own plan. You can run this by Susan and Chino and get their impute. This is a start. We need to get serious about doing something. We have enough problems fighting with Singer. We are lucky to have people involved that can work on such a large scale. The most the politicians could come up with in the past was 1 million dollars. We cannot expect the politicians to come up with the amount of money needed to buy out Singer, and refurbish the building. We are talking about millions of dollars. The politicians cannot raise any money to buy out the landlord that the city sold the building to.
Phil publishing a book is nothing compared to raising this kind of money. I would rather work with someone and know who they are, than let Singer choose the tenant. Also if we stop the building of the dorm and these people all drop out because we cannot get a plan together, where are we going to find a replacement team? These people live here. We can see who these people are. We have been in their homes. We are in constant contact. We have seen the size and scale of some their projects. These people are real players. FEVA lost a big piece of the organization when David quit. We need all the best players working on one plan. We do not need a divided house.
We all know that Susan, Chino, Alfredo, or myself cannot raise this kind of money to stop Singer. We know what our fight can do. We have witnessed it for the last several years. We need some big guns. I think that these people have them.