Last year, after sixty years of selling fruits and vegetables from a beyond bare bones storefront at 400 Grand Street, cranky but beloved Ruby Baumgarten decided to call it quits. Now the ground-floor tenement space is about to get a new tenant — the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy.
A hand-written sign attached to the metal drop-down gate announces the transformation. We put a call into Lori Weismann, director of touring. Thanks to a generous donation, she said 400 Grand will become the Kling-Niman Visitor’s Center, just as soon as renovations can be completed (hopefully by the end of the summer).
It’s worth noting the building is located on the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. It’s managed by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. While the tenement would almost certainly be demolished if SPURA is ever redeveloped, it’s safe to assume the Conservancy will not have to worry for at least several years. The debate about what to do with site has been raging for more than 40 years.
The Conservancy is excited about having a visible visitor’s center on Grand Street. They’ve just debuted a new program- “Insider Tours” of the Lower East Side. Offered on Thursdays and Sundays, they are 90 minute mini-tours of the Jewish Conservancy’s more comprehensive surveys of sacred sites and significant landmarks on the Lower East Side. They begin in front of 400 Grand Street. Click here for more info.