Volume 17, Number 40 | February 25 - March 3, 2005

Fundraising to begin on Tribeca community center

By Ronda Kaysen

Manhattan Youth, the organization tapped to operate the new community recreation center slated for Site 5C in Tribeca, has a long way to go before it can ponder any ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

The non-profit organization plans to launch a capital and planning campaign for the 28,000 sq. ft. space on Warren St. next month — once it knows how much money it needs to raise.

“We are working out the costs,” Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth told the Youth/Education Committee of Community Board 1 at a Feb. 22 meeting. “The developer will get back to me in the next couple of weeks with a figure.”

Townley expects the center, which will occupy four floors of the residential development, to open by September 2007. According to the organization’s annual report, the center will include a swimming pool, a theater and concert hall, dance and art studio space, a multi-use media center, a science lab, a library and reading room, a kitchen and other facilities.

Manhattan Youth needs to raise significant capital for the center and plan its uses. Early estimates, according to Townley, set the figure at somewhere between $4.8 million and $5.6 million. “I hope that number stands,” he said.

Despite the daunting fundraising task ahead, the center, part of a development agreement forged last year by City Councilmember Alan Gerson and Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, has significant political support.

“We’re going to support the [capital] campaign,” Gerson said in a telephone interview. “There very well may also be City Council funding. I expect there will be.”

Townley may also be able to count on a significant contribution from the Site 5B development across the street, another property included in last year’s agreement. C.B. 1 indicated earlier this month that it would most likely support modifications to the Site 5B development. As part of the agreement, Site 5B developer Edward Minskoff will be required to give a portion of the profits from the height increase to the community center. “We’re in the process of tackling that,” Gerson said. “It should be close to $2 million.”

Several committee members reminded Townley that although the center would be Manhattan Youth-run, it is very much a center for the entire community. Townley, a C.B. 1 member also, assured the committee that Manhattan Youth would make every effort “to truly make this a community center.”

“There is a crises of out of school-time care,” Townley said, noting that his organization hopes to provide year-round and out-of-school-time childcare at the new center. “It really is a parent-run community center.”

The center is not the only community center cropping up in the neighborhood. The Battery Park City Authority has set aside space for a 45,000 sq. ft. community center for Site 23/24, located at the west end of the ballfields across West St.

The Site 5C community center “constantly needs to be thought about with this other community center, which is literally going to be across the street,” committee member Jeff Galloway told Townley.

The authority is quite a ways from hammering out the specifics of its community center — the requests for proposal for the sites will not be released until late spring, said Leticia Remauro, an authority spokesperson.

“Right now there are no decisions being made,” she said. “Representatives of the elected officials and community boards and community groups — including Bob Townley — are meeting to discuss what’s happening in all the centers Downtown and what should be included in this place [site 23/24].”

Townley expects the campaign to begin in about a month. “There’s going to be some give and take,” he said. “It will be a work in progress.”


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