BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | The city evacuated four buildings on E. 10th St. near the old P.S. 64 on Wednesday morning after cracks were found on the former school’s facade.
The decommissioned school spans from Ninth to 10th Sts. between Avenues B and C. A blight on the neighborhood, it has sat empty for more than 20 years ever since developer Gregg Singer bought it at an auction of city properties in 1998. Three years after buying the place, he evicted its longtime tenant, CHARAS/El Bohio, a Puerto Rican-run community and cultural center.
On Wednesday, city Department of Buildings inspectors determined the building did not pose a danger, though did issue a violation to Singer for failure to maintain the facade for cracks spotted on the third floor, Curbed reported.
“It’s all political,” Singer scoffed to Curbed. “This is part of a concerted effort to put pressure on us. I was just at the building. There’s definitely cracks — that we were already aware of — that will be pointed and repaired, but there’s no immediate danger.”
After police cordoned off the block following the neighboring buildings’ evacuation, Singer was spotted standing outside the former school holding up a printed sign with the name of his Web site, oldps64.com. A Villager reporter snapped photos of him before a police officer shooed her off the block.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at a Lower East Side town hall meeting when he was running for re-election in November 2017, surprisingly announced that the city was “interested in reacquiring” the old P.S. 64 from Singer.
The Villager asked the mayor the following August — nearly a year after his stunning pledge — where things stood with the city re-obtaining it, and he complained that Singer was being “exceedingly uncooperative.”
“We’ve tried to have a productive conversation about purchase,” de Blasio told The Villager then. “We’ve gotten nowhere so far. We’re not giving up. We’re working very closely with the councilmember, Carlina Rivera. I’m very frustrated with that owner.”
Meanwhile, local politicians said it was up to the mayor to “restart the dialogue” about the building, while Singer angrily charged that de Blasio and his administration had rebuffed his efforts to have discussions. At the time, Singer’s latest plan for the old P.S. 64 was to try to transform it into a center for military veterans.
Following the evacuation of the neighboring buildings on E. 10th St. Wednesday, local politicians planned a press conference Thursday morning to call on the city finally to “take action” on the long-vacant eyesore.