Y not a Tribeca center, 92nd St. asks

By Skye H McFarlane

After years of false starts, the 92nd St. Y may finally be on its way Downtown.

Based on communications between Community Board 1 and the Y, the cultural and community programming center is planning to set up a satellite location in Tribeca near the Holland Tunnel. If all goes well, the long-desired Y might also get a boost in funding for its Downtown locale. The Y is in the running for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s Community and Cultural Enhancement Funds.

There is about $61 million in the two funds, which the L.M.D.C. plans to distribute before it disbands.

The developments came to light when C.B. 1, in considering which organizations to support for L.M.D.C. grants, decided to once again test the waters of the 92nd St. Y.

“We always knew they were interested in coming Downtown. We’ve been on the record for years saying we wanted them here,” said C.B. 1 member Catherine McVay Hughes, who reached out to the Y two weeks ago, in advance of the L.M.D.C.’s Nov. 10 grant application deadline for the $45-million Community Enhancement Fund. “I thought it would make sense to talk to them to make sure they knew that the L.M.D.C. grant was available.”

C.B. 1 first endorsed a Downtown Y location in 2003. In 2004, the Y was short-listed for a space in the new World Trade Center site, but it lost out to four other arts groups. Therefore, when Hughes finally got in touch with Y director Sol Adler, she was delighted to learn that the center was negotiating a lease for 200 Hudson St., a Trinity Real Estate property next to the Holland Tunnel.

Confident that the Y would apply for the grant program, C.B. 1 drafted a public letter of support addressed to L.M.D.C. chairperson Kevin Rampe. According to the letter, the Y satellite would likely open in Sept. 2007 and would offer adult programming aimed at multiple generations.

The 92nd St. Y did not dispute these details, but would only confirm that negotiations are still underway. Spokesperson Alix Friedman said that the Y would make an official announcement as soon as all the details are finalized.

“I’m not trying to be evasive or anything,” Friedman said. “I’m just not at liberty to discuss something that doesn’t exist yet.”

Trinity Real Estate spokesperson Richard Edmonds said that Trinity does not comment on any deal until it is finalized. An L.M.D.C. spokesperson said the corporation would be releasing details about the grant process soon and declined to comment further.

C.B. 1 members were not so tight-lipped.

“We’re so excited,” Hughes said. “It would be a huge quality of life improvement for the people down here. An incredible resource. And it would bring people into the area.”

“I think it would be a good fit for them and for the community,” Menin said of the Downtown move. “We’ve been experiencing a significant population growth that’s putting a tremendous tax and burden on our resources. A facility like the Y that could offer programming for children as well as adults and seniors would be a nice amenity.”

Menin said that in addition to the Y, C.B. 1 is supporting the Downtown Little League, health clinics that address 9/11-related illnesses, and youth and senior programs at Southbridge Towers in their quest for L.M.D.C. funds. C.B. 1 has also asked to have a representative on the committee that will decide who receives the grant money. As yet, the L.M.D.C. has not responded to the board’s request, nor has it made public any time frame for distributing the grants. Dep. Mayor Dan Doctoroff, an L.M.D.C. board member, said in September that he hoped to award the grants in a few months.

“I hope it will be very soon,” Menin said. “The organizations that applied for these grants have been feeling the effects of 9/11 for five years. They need an infusion of cash as soon as possible.”