BY GABE HERMAN | After the Boys’ Club of New York put its historic Harriman Clubhouse up for sale last year, there was an outcry from locals and concern that the building would become just more new luxury condos, further gentrifying the East Village.
But an anonymous buyer has reportedly come to the rescue, buying the building at E. 10th St. and Avenue A for $32 million — with plans to keep it as a community space.
The Harrison Clubhouse has served youth in the East Village and Lower East Side since 1901, helping around 1 million boys and young men. Last year, the Boys’ Club trustees put the building up for sale without seeking much input from the community. They said there had been declining attendance in recent years, though minutes from the organization showed that attendance at the facility had actually been increasing.
Last fall, local politicians, Community Board 3 members and residents rallied outside the 50,000-square-foot building, calling for postponement of the sale.
“We must do everything within our power to make sure that the clubhouse building can continue to be a resource for youth in our community,” said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein at the time. “We cannot allow our community assets to be sold to the highest bidder and turned into market-rate housing that gentrifies our neighborhood.”
But now a wealthy individual, who wishes to remain anonymous, has bought the building through a foundation, which intends to keep it for community use, Crain’s first reported.
“The goal is to keep this as a community facility,” Paul Wolf, a real estate broker who represents the foundation, told Crain’s. “The intent is to sell it to a nonprofit at a lower price than the purchase price.”
St. Brigid’s Church, nearby on Avenue B, was also saved in recent years by an angel investor, who gave $20 million for renovations to save the building from destruction. The church reopened in 2013.
As for the Harriman Clubhouse, state Senator Brad Hoylman expressed gratitude after the anonymous purchase.
“Whoever this angel investor is, I want to thank them on behalf of our community,” Holyman said in a statement. “They are saving a century-old community facility from being converted into luxury condos or a high-priced hotel, which sadly has been the real estate narrative for the East Village.
“While I wish the Boys’ Club had never put the Harriman Clubhouse on the open market in the first place,” Hoylaman continued, “I’m grateful to them for finding this angel investor that will allow young people and families in our community to continue to benefit from this splendid facility.
“I’m hopeful that the unnamed foundation will work with Community Board 3, elected officials and other local stakeholders to ensure that community organizations have a place in the new building, and that the Boys’ Club, which is reportedly taking space in the building, will decide to stay in this location and continue to provide the essential services it offers to boys and young men.”
Hoylman was among the local politicians who rallied last fall for deferring the building’s sale, along with Epstein, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilmember Carlina Rivera.