Allen Mall Bathhouse Begins Asbestos Abatement Ahead of RFP for Snack Stand Conversion

Posted on: May 20th, 2016 at 5:00 am by
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Holy shit!

For the first time in Lord knows how long, there’s finally some definitive movement inside the decades-old Allen Mall Bathhouse. Stop the presses.

Yesterday morning, several contractors were seen clearing out the former bathroom stall. Asbestos abatement activities, according to the men working the job. This is a watershed moment, undoubtedly the opening volley to resurrect this brick box for commercial use.

Parks Department – the city agency that owns the bathhouse – confirms that the abatement project began yesterday and should conclude “around June 20.”

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As previously reported, the city is looking to reactivate this so-called “comfort station” with concessions of some sort. There is plenty of grassroots support. Parks continues to collect criteria for the Request for Proposal, slated for public release in early June.

Community Board 3 backed the plan in March, albeit with several recommendations:

  • That the food vendor be “accessible” to the community, and offer a variety of cuisines at affordable price points. No “high end or expensive food enterprises.”
  • The addition of a bicycle servicing station, an apt idea given the amount of cyclist traffic in both directions along the median.
  • 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.
  • Assurance that the public bathroom component on the south side is properly maintained by the vendor partners.
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Millions in funding is necessary to see this to conclusion. As it stands, there’s currently $2 million in the bank earmarked for the renovation project, both 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.)

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 from Allen Street. It’s been a derelict vacancy ever since.

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