Lower Eastside Girls Club Groundbreaking Ceremony
Last Friday afternoon, officials from the NYC Housing Development Corporation, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, elected state and local leaders, and project developer Dermot Company were on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the new Lower East Side Girls Club Center for Community. Located on Avenue D and East 7th Street in the heart of Alphabet City, it will be the only all girls-club facility in the city. And in addition to being headquarters, the 30,000 square-foot mixed-used property will also feature 39 affordable residential units, 38 market-rate units, as well as space for retail establishments.
Actress Rosario Dawson was also in attendance for this groundbreaking event as emcee. Rosario grew up on 13th Street and Avenue B, just blocks away from the site of the new center. “We are cementing young girls future from the neighborhood. I really envy these girls,” said Ms. Dawson. “I would have loved to have a place like this. This is a celebration of the neighborhood.”
After years of operating its programs out of several rented spaces in the neighborhood, the LESGC will have a permanent home on the first three floors of this “green” state-of-the-art building. The nine upper floors will include the mixed-income apartment units, while the remaining space will include everything from a planetarium and two-story library to a photography and digital media center. If members choose to exercise, the center has a fitness and wellness center. Some other features of the club include technology workshops, art, dance and yoga studios, as well as college and career prep classrooms. Basically, lots of tools to breed success among neighborhood youth.
The all-star crew of guests conveyed plenty of praise. LESGC Founder and Executive Director Lyn Pentecost said “when we dream, we dream all the way. Believe it or not I am almost speechless, tongue-tied.” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was on hand for the festivities as well. “This is a wonderful day for the Lower East Side. This will shape and nurture the leaders of tomorrow. I appreciate how important community centers are. They do great things for children, especially when parents are out working,” said Speaker Silver. “Community centers are a place where children go after school and develop role models and relationships with others.” By his side was City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “We will see these young girls grow into bigger, stronger girls,” said Speaker Quinn. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the community center “is about an opportunity for the next generation of New Yorkers who grow up on the Lower East Side.” Steve Benjamin, CEO of the Dermot Company said “we are very pleased to be part of this project, we pushed this one through.”
The community center is being constructed on onetime city-owned property, conveyed to the LESGC by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. It’s all part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, an $8.4 billion initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by 2014.
Scheduled completion date for the project is mid-2012. Upon opening, membership is expected to triple from the current number of 400 to 1,200.
Written by Andrew Cohen