Volume 79, Number 10 | August 12 - 18, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Old P.S. 64 up for sale or rent

By Albert Amateau

Helmsley-Spear has become the exclusive agent marketing the landmarked old P.S. 64 building as “University House at Tompkins Square Park,” seeking offers to lease or sell the six-story 1904 building between Avenues B and C.

The offering memorandum says the property is “ideal for schools, universities, museums, college dormitories, medical offices, hospital, foundations, nonprofit institutions and related facilities.”

Warren Sorgen and Clemente Cohen of Helmsley-Spear said a complete renovation of the building’s interior began on July 21, and will include the elevator system and new windows.

Because the building is a designated city landmark, any work on the facade must be submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for approval. Nevertheless, the renovation will allow for the creation of a new 13,000-square-foot, column-free, first-floor space suitable for a swimming pool, a gymnasium or a theater, according to the memorandum.

The owners would also consider creating a “building within a building” with multiple entrances and multiple uses, including leasing individual floors and selling portions of the building as a commercial condominium, the memorandum say.

The old school building served as CHARAS/El Bohio, a community and cultural center in the 1980s and ’90s, until Gregg Singer, a local developer, acquired the property from the city in 1998 for $3.15 million in a deal that was opposed by many neighbors.

Singer’s plans to redevelop the property, including demolishing and replacing the building with a 19-story dormitory, were quashed in June 2006 when the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the old P.S. 64 a city landmark.

In an unsuccessful effort to forestall landmarking, Singer made use of a demolition permit — issued prior to the L.P.C. action — to strip exterior architectural details from the building.

Sorgen on Tuesday acknowledged that Singer was still one of the owners of the property, but he insisted that the controversy “is ancient history now.” He went on to say, “This is a brand-new project. The city is behind it — it’s a fine project. Helmsley-Spear wouldn’t be involved if it were not.”

The memorandum notes that the owners have drafted plans to redevelop the building as a college dormitory with a capacity for about 600 students in 97 units. The owners, however, would consider any use allowed in an R8-B zone, according to the memorandum. The property carries a deed restriction for use as a community-use facility.

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