Save 1800/1808 Grand Concourse from future demolition, and transform the structure into the Mount Hope Center of the Arts

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1800/1808 Grand Concourse (located on the corner of E175th Street, in the Bronx) opened its doors to the public on September 18, 1910.  The architects who created the design were Francis L.V. Hoppin and Terrence A. Koen.  The architectural design is Georgian (or Colonial Revival), which does not resemble anything within the area.  The two gentlemen designed many historic properties within New York City as well as in other areas of the state.  Examples of NYC landmarked structures created by Hoppin & Koen include Manhattan's former New York City Police Headquarters (240 Centre Street), the Manhattan terminal of the Brooklyn Bridge, and multiple firehouses throughout Manhattan (one stands on E111 St.).  In addition, Hoppin & Koen won a contest for their architectural design of the Albany Courthouse in our state's capital (opened in 1914) as well as being the architects of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Edith Wharton's home (author of The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome).  Their contributions to the history of NYC are extremely significant, which provide additional reasoning as to why 1800/1808 Grand Concourse should be restored and landmarked, as well. There is a piece of Hoppin & Koen's legacy on the Grand Concourse, which should be valued; not destroyed.

The structure was originally built as a church; however, the property was also utilized as a community center for local residents.  In addition, lectures were given at this location by well-known artists, such as Fannie Hurst.  Hurst was a novelist, whose works spanned from 1916 to 1937; some of her novels became motion pictures.  However, over time the property has been subjected to deplorable neglect by the property owner.  

Currently, there are open NYC Department of Buildings as well as Environmental Control Board violations against the building, which date back to 1993 (this information is available on the NYC Department of Buildings website). Open ECB violations equate to nearly $70,000, alone - these fines & violations do not inlcude the tens of thousands of dollars of open DOB violations.  The sidewalk shed permit was issued in 2008, and expired in 2009; however, the sidewalk shed still stands.  The necessary construction was never executed, and it is illegal to remove the sidewalk shed until such work is completed and passes inspection.  Members of the church have stated that the property is beyond repair; however, according to two independent architects who have visited the building, 1800/1808 Grand Concourse is not "beyond repair".  The church board members and church's attorney are neither licensed DOB inspectors, nor architects.  Neither possesses the credentials to make such a claim.  Moreover, a tax lien had been issued against the property owner in the past (which has since been resolved), which exemplifies the property owner's inability and/or lack of willingness to bring the structure up to legal code as well as requiring financial assistance in order to pay required taxes.  

There majority of people in support of demolishing this property are investors seeking to make a profit; not preserving a piece of history that cannot be re-created.  However, many people - especially local constituents - are adamantly against seeing this glorious gem be erased from their community, from the history of the the Grand Concourse and essentially from the history of New York City. Recently, it has been confirmed that the property is in contract with a supportive housing organization in order to demolish the current property and build a structure in order house citizens living with HIV/AIDS.  People infected with the HIV virus make up a very small percentage of the population, which is part of the reason why a communal venue would serve the greater need on a broader scale.  Moreover, Bronx Community Board 5 already offers five supportive housing facilities to people living with HIV/AIDS.  The community has shown compassion by approving such facilities; however, many Bronx Community Board 5 members as well as constituents feel that we have reached our limit for supportive housing facilities.  Bronx Community Board 5 currently houses an astronomical fifty-five high needs/supportive housing properties.  Twenty-three of the fifty-five are supportive housing projects, two more supportive housing projects have been approved and an additional two supportive housing properties have been proposed.  Moreover, our community will be the future home of a detention center for young girls.  Simply put, our community is over saturated with high needs/supportive housing.  

Bronx Community Board 5 is one of two Bronx community boards out of twelve that does not possess a cultural venue of its own.  The Lowe's Paradise Theater served as a cultural venue for the community; however, in recent years the venue has been taken over by a church group.  Moreover, Bronx Community Board 5 is one of the poorest districts within the state of New York.  Therefore, additional supportive housing projects would contribute to the feeling of hopelessness that is already shared by many community members.  The community is in dire need of a venue that would provide a cultural outlet, be an inspirational tool for all ages as well as a positive atmosphere that encourages artistic expression.  Additional housing - of any kind - would not contribute to the community's cultural needs.  In addition, 1800/1808 Grand Concourse are listed on the NYC DOB as Special Preservation District: C - Grand Concourse.  These facts contribute to this property being an ideal community space; not being destroyed for any type of a contemporary, residential property.  

I am a member of the Bronx District 5 Community Board as well as the Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee within the board.  Recently, I have proposed 1800/1808 Grand Concourse become a landmarked property as well as a capital project for NYC in order to transform the structure into the Mount Hope Center of the Arts.  The Mount Hope Center of the Arts would ideally encompass an array of artistic expression including (but not limited to) performing and visual arts.

Please, feel free to view the attached YouTube clip, which provides documentation of the building's interior and exterior as well as witnessing others that have put forth voluntary endeavors in order to save 1800/1808 Grand Concourse.   Redemption of 1800 Grand Concourse  

By signing this petition, you will contribute to simultaneously preserving a unique piece of New York City's history, while creating a much needed cultural venue for Bronx Community Board 5.  

Thank you.



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