C.B. 3 Supports ‘Haunted’ House’s Conversion Into Bea Arthur Residence

IMG_2870Stephen Rex Brown

A non-profit that provides housing to homeless L.G.B.T. youth had no problem gaining the enthusiastic support of members of Community Board 3 for a proposed Bea Arthur Residence on East 13th Street.

Late last month, The Local reported that the Ali Forney Center, with the help of the Cooper Square Committee, hoped to gain control of and renovate the city-owned building at 222 East 13th Street, and rename it after the “Golden Girls” actress who donated $300,000 to the organization in her will. At a meeting last night, C.B. 3’s Land Use, Zoning, Public and Private Housing committee offered its unanimous support.

“It’s a burden that we all share, fixing these kinds of things,” David McWater, the chair of the committee, said.

This would be the Ali Forney Center’s fifth transitional housing facility where L.G.B.T youth between the ages of 16 and 24 (many of whom have been kicked out of their homes) would be able to reside for up to two years as long as they finish high school and maintained some type of employment.

Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, and Steve Herrick, executive director of the Cooper Square Committee, asked the committee to write a letter of support to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. D.H.P.D., which has been in possession of the building since 1993, intends to sell the property through the Asset Sales Program — a notion that elicited groans from members of the committee who complained that the program did not function well. Mr. Siciliano and Mr. Herrick wanted the committee to ask the D.H.P.D. to take the building out of the program and move it to the department’s Manhattan Planning unit, where the non-profit organizations would be able to put in a proposal to gain control of the site.

“We have to go to H.P.D. and follow up with them and sit on their heels and actually move this so we can get site control,” Mr. Herrick said. “We could actually send in a grant proposal for funding within a couple of months [if the department approves].”

The Cooper Square Committee had gained over 500 signatures from people residing near the building, many of them from the block between Second and Third Avenues where the building has stood vacant for over ten years (causing some to say the address may be haunted).

The committee unanimously agreed to write a letter of support and encouraged the organizations to expand the building to bump up the number of youths that could live there from 12 to 18.

“I’m very appreciative,” Mr. Siciliano said. “I think it speaks really highly of the community board that they have a level of civic mindedness and compassion that there would be no controversy whatsoever about this.”