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Much-Delayed Community Center Still Not Open

November 10, 2009

MOUNT HOPE HOUSING COMPANYS NEW COMMUNITY CENTER WAS SUPPOSED TO OPEN IN 2007 (PHOTO: J. FERGUSSON)

MOUNT HOPE HOUSING COMPANY'S NEW COMMUNITY CENTER WAS SUPPOSED TO OPEN IN 2007 (PHOTO: J. FERGUSSON)

By JAMES FERGUSSON

In June, Mount Hope Housing Company held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of their beautiful, but long-delayed, new community center at 55 E. 175th Street, and to honor Shaun Belle, Mount Hope’s president and CEO who was leaving the organization.

Four months later, the center has yet to officially open.

According to Fritz Jean, the new CEO, the project has long been hampered by construction delays, and funding problems. But this latest delay has nothing to do to with money. “The money is not at all the issue. It [only] becomes an issue when we look at the operation,” Jean said,in that Mount Hope is still looking for funds to keep the center afloat when it finally opens.

Instead, something else is holding it back. “Most recently we discovered that the building encroaches upon city property by three eighths of an inch,” Jean said.

That’s the width of a fingernail. But to the city’s Department of Buildings, it’s a big deal, and has stopped Mount Hope from being awarded their permanent certificate of occupancy. This in turn is preventing Mount Hope’s Department of Youth Services from moving into the center, and holding classes there, because the contract Mount Hope has with the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) won’t be honored until the Department of Health has inspected the building. And they won’t do that without a permanentcertificate of occupancy.

Staff have reached out to the Bronx borough president’s office and others for a solution, and hope the center will finally open in the new year.

The building does have a temporary certificate of occupancy, meaning businesses and individuals can rent it for events – there are large, open spaces on the third and fourth floors. Mount Hope is also hoping to rent some office space there on a permanent basis. To find out more, callthe main office at (718) 583-7017.

Mount Hope also has plans to build a gymnasium next to the center on Walton Avenue, just south of the New Hope Walton Project, a new affordable housing complex built by Mount Hope.

Approximately $2 million has been raised; at least another $2 million is needed.

Jean says the idea now is to build a two-story parking garage underground, and the gymnasium on top.

Comments

One Response to “Much-Delayed Community Center Still Not Open”

  1. CEO Promises New Day for Embattled Housing Company : Mount Hope Monitor on November 11th, 2009 1:39 pm

    [...] to Jean, Belle focused on new projects – including the new community center on Townsend Avenue – and didn’t give the buildings the attention they [...]

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