Get Ready for Snack Stand and Bike Repair Service at Allen Mall Bathhouse
For this classic Lower East Side structure, sixty years of dormancy is about to end. The old-time bathhouse situated in the Allen Street Mall at Delancey is on the precipice of reactivation. To become a “comfort station,” in the euphemistic lingo of city bureaucracy. Last night, the Parks subcommittee of Community Board 3 made sure it would happen.
The brick building – erected in the 1930s as public restroom for straphangers on the Second Avenue El – is owned by the Parks Department. As such, the agency is collecting criteria to issue a Request for Proposals to redevelop and implement specific neighborhood concessions onsite. The CB3 panel revisited the application last night, having spent the last month deliberating on details.
Several suggestions were voiced during the public meeting. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that the operator needed to be “accessible” to the community. Food vendors onsite must offer a variety of cuisines at affordable price points. They were also receptive to the idea of a bike repair stand, an apt idea given the amount of cyclist traffic in both directions along the mall.
Other recommendations pitched: widening of the median concrete and landscaping to resemble the Mall south of Delancey (potential to affect the protected bike lanes); outdoor seating in warmer months on the northern exposure of the bathhouse; preference that the building remain preserved; and assurance that the public bathroom component on the south side is properly maintained by the vendor partners.
Implementation won’t be easy, though. Millions in funding is needed to not only renovate the median, but the dilapidated structure itself. As it stands, there’s currently $2 million in the bank earmarked for this purpose, from Parks and the now-defunct Lower Manhattan Development Corp. respectively. Plus, an additional $2.2 million (or thereabouts) is reportedly needed to complete the project, which would concurrently fix roughly two-thirds of the stretch between Delancey and Rivington. (The potential partner would be responsible for the building rehabilitation.)
CB3 was in approval to proceed. Next step assuming full board ratification – Parks Department will finalize the RFP, then solicit ideas for the space.
The photogenic Delancey Street bathhouse dates back to the 1930s, and was originally constructed to service passengers on the Second Avenue El. These public restrooms had a short life, and went dark in the early 1950s after the elevated tracks were removed. It’s been a derelict vacancy ever since.