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BY HEATHER DUBIN | At Tuesday night’s Community Board 3 meeting, City Councilmember Rosie Mendez announced $5.3 million in funding had been secured with Speaker Christine Quinn and the Manhattan Council delegation to assist the Nuyorican Poets Cafe with major renovations and repairs.
“The Nuyorican Poets Cafe was hard hit during Sandy,” Mendez said.
Mendez said this capital grant will allow the East Village poetry mecca to become compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, as well as fix its upper, unused floors above the performance space and the basement.
“We were very fortunate, and quite gratified by the result,” said Daniel Gallant, executive director of the Nuyorican. “We are very grateful to all members of the City Council who put in a good word for us.”
Plans have been underway for the past decade to redo the place’s floors, said Gallant, who began his tenure in 2008.
“We’d accrued $1 million over three years,” the director said in a phone interview. “It was a good start, but we still needed much more funding to more realistically approach these floors.”
Nuyorican sustained damage from both Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy. Its basement has flooded two years in a row now, and required a gut renovation, as did part of the performance space.
“Sandy knocked out our heating and air conditioning,” Gallant said. “We had to go the entire winter without heat.”
He was appreciative of the venue’s supportive fan base, which came to performances despite the cold, until enough money was raised to replace the heating.
“The biggest structural issues involve drainage, a new roof and brickwork on the upper floors that’s starting to crumble,” he said. The building is more than 100 years old, and was previously a residential tenement. Renovation of the upper floors is necessary to ensure safety below them.
“Every time we have a major storm, there are still some leaks that opened up since Irene and Sandy,” Gallant said.
“During both hurricanes we called it the ‘indoor waterfall effect,’ ” joked Gallant. “It’s pretty to look at it, but not a lot of fun when the piano is under it.”
Construction is anticipated to begin in the next two to three years.