East Village community members are planning to hold a community meeting after news began to circulate surrounding new development plans for the former P.S.64 elementary school on East 9th street between avenues B and C. According to EV Grieve, developer Gregg Singer is moving forward with plans to convert the 152,000-square-foot building into a 225-room dormitory, skirting the property’s deed restriction.
This conversion has been one endless saga filled with opposition and turmoil. Singer purchased the building, which was formerly owned by the city, in 1998 for $3.15 million. Members of the neighborhood insisted that the property should be converted into a community center in alignment with its deed outline and in December 2015, Singer was sued for allegedly pocketing funds from financial backers. In June 2016, Singer secured a $44 million construction loan from Madison Realty Capital to move forward with the dorm conversion, potentially for the Joffrey Ballet School.
This time around, the community is accusing Singer of “seeking to get around the restrictive declaration and the tighter rules we helped fight for years ago and sneak in illegitimate uses,” writes EV Grieve. Supposedly, Singer has hired the lobbyist responsible for getting the deed lifted in the scandalous Rivington House case, only this time, the alleged objective is to get the deed restriction redefined for dormitories.
However, a spokesperson for Singer Financial Corporation sums up the accusations to people just being bitter over the developer buying the sale at an auction nearly 20 years ago. They told Curbed the following:
"The notion that there is any effort to evade the rules is not only wrong but silly and just posturing by those still upset that the City sold the property almost 20 years ago. Those in opposition have tried everything they can to block any use of the building, including downzoning, landmarking, and now bullying.
Similarly, the City has done a very intensive review and that it has taken so long to get to this point refutes any notion of favoritism. If anything, it is the political pressure from the advocates that deserves scrutiny, rather than a developer who bought the property in good faith at a city auction, who wants to do nothing more than restore this historic and long-empty building and provide a superior residential experience which will further the City's reputation as an international academic center."
The community meeting is scheduled for January 18th.