Volume 16 • Issue 37 | February 13 - 19, 2004



B.M.C.C. inks deal to open across from Fiterman

By Josh Rogers

Downtown Express photo by Ramin Talaie

The Borough of Manhattan Community College plans to move into 75 Park Pl., left, this summer. Fiterman Hall, right, has been closed since Sept. 11, 2001.

The Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Fiterman Hall is still severely damaged from 9/11, but across the street, the school has just signed a 10-year lease so their students can move from temporary trailers back to regular classrooms this summer.

Antonio Pérez, the school’s president, said the lease for 186,000 square feet of space at 75 Park Pl. will “relieve some of the pressure we have now.” Fiterman, a 400,000-square-foot building at 30 W. Broadway, was badly hit the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001 after the collapse of 7 World Trade Center. A few weeks later, the school reopened and later set up temporary classroom trailers on West St., just outside its main campus on Chambers St. Pérez said he can’t wait to see the temporary rooms go.

“We’re trying to take the trailers away as quickly as possible to give our students the space they deserve,” he said in a telephone interview.

Pérez said he anticipated a resolution soon to the fate of Fiterman, which has been tied up in insurance disputes. The building is expected to be demolished and rebuilt.

In the meantime, B.M.C.C. will move into the Park Pl. building, also called the R.R. Donnelly. Pérez said the landlord, Jack Resnick and Sons, will set up a separate entrance for the school in the office building bounded by Park Pl., Greenwich St., Murray St. and W. Broadway. The annual, $7.5-million lease was approved by the city, the City University of New York and will be financed in large part out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency 9/11relief package, Pérez said.

In addition to putting a strain on classroom space, Pérez said, the closing of Fiterman also meant the school lost $400,000 a year in rent for office space leased to CUNY and potential equity revenue from start-up companies the school set up with Partnership for New York City, a business-civic organization.

Some construction will be needed to prepare Park Pl. for a summer opening, Pérez said. The building will house classrooms, a training center for emergency responders and a new “incubator” for start-up companies. The training center, a new branch of the school, will be used by companies for preparedness seminars.

Many of the students at the two-year school are poor minorities or immigrants — many of whom hold down jobs and raise families in between classes. Even with the loss of space in 2001, the two-year school’s student body grew from 16,000 to 19,000, thanks to the trailers, a small temporary lease on John St., use of City College facilities up in Harlem, and the expansion of weekend classes, Pérez said.

“While many people are out going to the movies Saturday night, our students are in class and working hard,” Pérez said.

Josh@DowntownExpress.com


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