A big announcement from the Educational Alliance last night: the long awaited renovation of their historic building at 197 East Broadway is about to begin. The “gut renovation” is a 22-month project and will include “revitalized classrooms and new art studios, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and modern multi-purpose space” and will allow the institution to expand programming for all ages.
In a statement, Robin Bernstein, president and CEO, said:
“This is truly an exciting moment in the history of the Educational Alliance… We are thrilled about the potential of this renovation to create a reinvigorated space to better serve our diverse community. The renovated building will offer brand new facilities that match the high quality of our programming, and will help create a true sense of community among all of our neighbors.”
According to the statement, the renovation and details about temporary program locations will be confirmed in early October. The Fall semesters of the Art School, the Parenting Center and our Early Childhood education programs (Early Head Start, Head Start, the Preschool and Child Care) will not be affected by the renovation.
197 East Broadway has been the Educational Alliance’s home on the Lower East Side for 122 years. Never before has the organization embarked on a large scale building renovation of this magnitude.
More to come…
Well, it’s not all good news. Not if you care about EA’s historic art school — an intrinsic part of the LES community (and beyond) for over a century. Bernstein’s statement carefully sidesteps the what the “new” art studios will look like — they’ll be moved from the light-filled fifth floor 10K square foot space to a basement space, about one quarter as large, with no natural light to speak of and ceilings that will be too low to properly accomodate painting easels. Oh, and the darkroom and welding studios will be eliminated. Find out more (and sign the petition urging Bernstein and other EA Powers- That-Be to “renovate the renovation plans” at http://www.oc2sas.wordpress.com.
One thing to note here is that the building already has a pool, and a gym along with steamrooms, that are unused or underutilized.
Rumor has it that a gym is planned to replace the studios on the 5th floor. If true, it the question is obvious: why a plan to renovate would do that? Now, I could see putting a welding studio in the basement; there are definite advantages to that. But not the other types of work.
It’s not as if the neighborhood really needs another gym. A pool, on the other hand, is something we need.
Something is clearly trending toward what a welding student that works at a non-profit told me: lots of money is flowing to institutions that service children and the elderly; not so much other groups. It looks like the Ed Alliance may be getting on that gravy train; if so, the plan is a very short-sighted view rather than a vision.
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