Volume 80, Number 23 | November 4 - 10, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by J.B. Nicholas

Rosario Dawson, standing next to Speaker Sheldon Silver, couldn’t restrain her enthusiasm at the groundbreaking for the new Lower Eastside Girls Club headquarters.

Photos by Albert Amateau (above) and J.B. Nicholas (below)

Councilmember Rosie Mendez gave remarks, above, while behind her listening from left, were Borough President Scott Stringer, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Rosario Dawson, Girls Club Director Lyn Pentecost and Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Dawson dug in with style, below.

Girls Club feeling in the pink as ground broken on Ave. D

By Albert Amateau

It looked like everyone in the East Village and beyond was on Avenue D last week at the official groundbreaking for the new club headquarters for the Lower Eastside Girls Club.

The actress Rosario Dawson came down to her old neighborhood on the bright Friday morning of Oct. 29 to join girls, adult leaders of the club, neighborhood advocates and business people and elected officials to celebrate the city’s first girls club building.

“Girl Power!” was the rallying cry and cheer that echoed on the Avenue D site between Seventh and Eighth Sts.

Lower Eastside Girls Club founder and Executive Director Lyn Pentecost declared the new project a victory for the girls and women of the neighborhood.

After years of operating its programs out of several buildings in the East Village since its founding in 1996, the club will have its own 30,000-square-foot headquarters on the first three floors of the 12-story building, which will also have 78 mixed-income apartments — from low income to market rate — when it opens in 2012.

The project, developed by The Dermot Company and financed largely by the city’s Housing Development Corporation, is designed by Cutsogeorge Tooman & Allen Architects and is being built on property formerly owned by the city and transferred to the L.E.S. Girls Club.

Serving as a center for community, the building will include a planetarium, college- and career-prep classrooms, a two-story library, art, dance and yoga studios, a radio station and podcasting studio, a fitness-and-wellness center, a photography/digital media center and an environmental and technology workshop.

The building’s third-floor terrace will have a working “green” roof that will reduce the club’s energy usage and will also be a place where members will grow herbs and flowers for the Girl-made Gift Shop and Cafe, which will be on the ground floor. The club’s Sweet Things Bakery will have a new professional kitchen and a street-front cafe in the new building.

Paying tribute to the public/private effort going into the project were Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and state Senator Dan Squadron.

H.D.C. President Marc Jahr told the gathering that half of the 78 apartments would be for low- and moderate-income residents, including 12 units permanently affordable under the city’s “inclusionary zoning” program. The other half of the apartments will be for market-rate tenants but will be subject to rent stabilization.

H.D.C. issued $25 million in bonds and provided a $2.5 million subsidy for the project. The Lower Eastside Girls Club itself raised $18.5 million, including small contributions from neighborhood supporters, plus major gifts from individuals and special events. The Mayor’s Office provided $5.5 million, $900,000 was provided by the Borough President’s Office, and $3.2 million came from the City Council. In addition, $1.2 million came from the Kresge Foundation, $1 million from the Dermot Company and more than $2 million in gifts from individual donors.

When completed, the building will receive a 20-year tax abatement under the 421a program. Bank of America, Carver Bank and J.P. Morgan Chase are also involved in financing the project.

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