City to Release RFP for Allen Street Mall Bathhouse Conversion

Posted on: January 29th, 2016 at 9:31 am by
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The stout brick building sits in the Allen Street Mall, a deteriorating reminder of a nearly-forgotten past. The 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.

The Beaux-arts style structure was basically left for dead until relatively recently. Indeed, every few years, the community talks about repurposing the space for public benefit. The last such discussion was back in 2012 when the Hester Street Collaborative joined Asian Americans for Equality to repurpose the building for a “community center.” The Parks Department and the now-defunct Lower Manhattan Development Corporation forked over $2 million as part of the overall Allen Street Mall beautification project. That sum has been waiting to be tapped; apparently an additional $2.2 million (or thereabouts) is needed to complete the project.

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The Bathhouse in 1934, Photo: NYPL

Now time to revisit, as the city is again looking to restore the Allen Street bathhouse and restore its function as amenity with purpose. The city plans to issue a “Request for Proposal” to transform the so-called comfort station (euphemism for public toilet) into a a “food service facility.” Sounds like a concession stand operation. The call-to-action seeks partners to renovate, operate, and maintain the rehabilitated facility.

The bathhouse RFP is up for public discussion next month at the Parks subcommittee meeting for Community Board 3. We’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of the interior from a few years ago. It probably looks worse now…

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