Apparently bad behavior by real estate developers isn't limited to Brooklyn. On Tuesday, the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission awarded protected status to the old PS64 building on Ninth Street. The building had been occupied for 20 years by CHARAS/El Bohio, a community organization, until it was bought by Gregg Singer. He announced plans to strip the building of its architectural details and turn it into a 19-story university dorm, outraging just about everyone in the neighborhood. Outraged by the Landmarks decision, Singer has announced his revenge on the neighborhood activists: stripping the building of its architectural details and turning the building into a homeless shelter! The Villager has a long report:
Gregg Singer, who purchased the building from the city in 1998 and is bent on developing a towering dormitory on the site, announced his plan for the building, for at least the next several years, to be home to the Christotora Treatment Center, a facility providing temporary housing for the homeless and ex-convicts fresh out of jail, supportive housing for people with H.I.V./AIDS and services for the mentally ill, substance abusers and “troubled youth.”
The photo on the center’s Web page shows a woman with scabs and bruises on her face. Singer said this is the type of person who will use the center.
“She’s got a lesion, a scab and a bruise from being battered,” he explained. “Oh yeah — she’s a bum.” Singer denied the image had been Photoshopped and said this woman lives on the Lower East Side, though he declined to provide her name.
In the New York Sun article, Singer gives an even more direct quote: "They are going to get a stripped-down building with a homeless shelter. If that is what they want, then fine." There's just one problem with Singer's plan: the East Village loves homeless people! This quote from David McWater, chairperson of Community Board 3, pretty much says it all:
“He’s doing that to scare people,” McWater said. “It’s despicable he would do that. But people in this neighborhood aren’t scared by that. This neighborhood has always cared about poor people and the underclass, people with AIDS. We’ll embrace them and they’ll become part of our community. I’m embarrassed for him.”