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City Favors Bike Repair as Part of Food Concession on Allen Street (Updated)

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Allen Street at Delancey Street.
Allen Street at Delancey Street.

Here’s a followup on a story we brought you last month — a proposal from the city’s Parks Department to renovate the old bathhouse at Allen and Delancey streets and to recruit a food vendor for the space.

The city plans to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) before the end of this month. Officials say they’ve already received a lot of informal interest in the building, which was abandoned 60 years ago when the elevated train stopped running. The vendor would be expected to pay for renovating the structure. The city would then kick in $2 million to landscape the pedestrian mall on this block and add seating.

At a meeting of Community Board 3’s Parks Committee in February, it was pointed out that this site was part of a neighborhood visioning initiative in 2008. During that process, residents said they wanted the building to be used for some type of community facility. While they suggested food provided by local small businesses could be part of it, the participants were unenthusiastic about a conversion of the bathhouse to a food operation run by outside vendors. One idea that came up in 2009 involved using the building for a an ‘urban greening’ and sustainable transportation center, including a bike repair outpost. Alex Han, deputy director of concessions, promised to look into the idea and report back to the community board.

He made a return visit to the parks committee last week. After consulting with city lawyers, Han said the Parks Department is willing to include language in the RFP in support of a bike repair operation as part of a larger proposal. The focus is still on a food concession, but the city will look favorably on applicants who incorporate the bike repair concept into their plans. Will the gesture from the Parks Department be enough to satisfy local activists? It’s tough to say. None of them was present for last week’s meeting.

Han said it will probably cost at least $1 million to restore the building. The vendor will be expected to renovate the public bathrooms as part of the project. The Parks Department will return to the community board once the RFP has been released and it has a handle on the various proposals under consideration.

UPDATE 3/24 We heard from a Department of Parks spokesperson with clarification on the process going forward once the RFP is released:

Parks will take the community board’s input for the RFP into consideration as we review proposals. We will share a draft of the resulting agreement and the successful proposer’s plans with the CB for their review and additional input; as well as hold a public hearing prior to making the award.

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