Volume 16 • Issue 54 | June 4 - 10, 2004

Nearing the last days for Manhattan Youth’s center

As Manhattan Youth prepares to close its community center at 55 Warren St., the youth services provider is looking for a place to house its administrative offices until a new recreation center is built on Chambers St.

Bob Townley, Manhattan Youth’s executive director, had anticipated moving straight into the new center when his lease at 55 Warren expired at the end of May. But the project stalled after Sept. 11, 2001, and construction has yet to begin on the residential tower and recreation center slated for the 5C lot next to P.S. 234.

Townley said his landlord has allowed him to stay in the space a little longer and he was not sure of the day when he would have to vacate the space.

Goldman Sachs recently pledged $1 million toward the creation of the community center, sited two blocks south of where the investment banking firm plans to build its new Battery Park City headquarters. Townley said while he wasn’t involved in the discussions leading up to the donation, he was glad community members have taken an active role in shaping the site’s future.

“I like the fact that people are negotiating and taking part in it, because when we build this thing we hope to have some level of involvement from the community,” Townley said.

The 35-story height of the planned residential tower has drawn widespread criticism, and Community Board 1 has pushed for a reduced height and a recreation center larger than the original, 18,000 square-foot design. Sources close to the negotiations say the city, the developer and the community have agreed to a slightly lower building and a 28,000 square-foot recreation center.

If the development proceeds as planned, it will be completed in 2007. Manhattan Youth can’t afford the $350,000 per year it that would cost to run a community center until then, so the organization will lay off two workers and scale back its programs in the interim.

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