Volume 81, Number 2 | June 9 - 15, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Lesley Sussman

Exterior repair work is finishing up at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center on Suffolk St.

C.B. 3 pushes for funds for C.S.V. interior repairs

By Lesley Sussman

Community Board 3 will ask the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs not to delay awarding a $2 million grant to the nonprofit Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, at 107 Suffolk St., so that critically needed upgrades to the building can continue without interruption.

The cultural institution, which is currently undergoing exterior repair work, was originally supposed to get the award next year for interior renovations. But now, C.S.V. may have to wait until 2019 to complete interior work because Mayor Bloomberg in his preliminary Fiscal Year 2012 budget announced a delay in funding.

At C.B. 3’s full board meeting on May 24, board chairperson Dominic Pisciotta told board members that he had been requested to write a “letter of support” to the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs urging it to move up the funding allocation to 2012.

Pisciotta said the C.S.V. building needed the additional funds to “guarantee the safety and security” for the center’s resident artists and roughly 75,000 visitors each year.

Pisciotta said that rescheduling the $2 million award would mean that “critically needed upgrades to this seriously deteriorated building — such as sprinklers for the first floor and basement ­— would have to stop for seven years.”

The board unanimously endorsed the letter of support.

Danai L. Pointer, director of external affairs for Cultural Affairs, told this newspaper, “The city has been working closely with Clemente Soto Velez on its capital rehabilitation project. We are reviewing their request, along with 175 requests from other cultural organizations.”

Meanwhile, Jan Hanvik, C.S.V.’s executive director, said the funds were vitally needed in order to complete interior renovations next year.

“We’re finishing up our exterior work and it’s not logical for us to have to wait until 2019 to complete this next phase of renovation,” he said.

Hanvik added that the building’s interior was “kind of dilapidated. It’s not up to code for wheelchair accessibility and things like that,” he said. “We can continue functioning just fine, but we’d like to be in compliance with all the city codes.”

Hanvik said he was confident the funding will be rescheduled.

“We have such good allies in the city,” he said. “I just had a meeting with Councilwoman Margaret Chin and she has pledged to support the rescheduling of [the funding].”

Hanvik said he was not surprised by the change of date, noting, “The mayor just made cuts across the board.”

Founded in 1993, C.S.V. operates two experimental theaters and there are 53 visual artists who have studios in the building. The center also hosts 15 performing arts and educational organizations.

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