Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Is The Future of Roosevelt Island's 504 Main Street? Is Proposed Child School Plan For Second Floor Dance/Theater Auditorium Incompatible With Hoped For Public Library Space?

Image of 504 Main Street

The future of Roosevelt Island's 504 Main was reported on in this previous post last November:
... There is a consensus among residents that the first floor should be used as the new home for the Roosevelt Island Public Library. The new Main Street Master Leaseholder, Hudson/Related, has expressed a willingness to rent the first floor of 504 Main Street to the Library, the Library has expressed a desire to rent that space but there is still an open question as to how such a deal will be financed. Estimates have been $10-15 million dollars to build a library at 504.

What type of tenant leases the second floor at 504 Main Street is another question and there are competing visions for that space. Among those seeking the second floor space is the Child School, whose Executive Director Sal Fererra is also a recently appointed, and controversial Director of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), the Sub-Landlord to Master Leaseholder Hudson Related. Mr. Fererra has publicly announced his desire to develop an Arts Center for the second floor of 504 Main Street.

... among the uses being considered for the second floor space was:
  • green office/desk/ conference space for freelance workers,
  • the Child School proposal, 
  • a place of worship for the Roosevelt Island Islamic Society and 
  • space for the Gallery RIVAA. ...
During the February meeting of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association Public Session, concern was raised by Janet Falk of the Roosevelt Island Community Literary Associates regarding the possible leasing of the second floor of 504 Main Street to the Child School for a Dance/Theater auditorium and its compatibility with the use of the first floor as a public library.

You Tube Video of 504 Main Street Discussion

I asked RIOC Director and Child School Executive Director Sal Ferrera if leasing the second floor of 504 Main Street to the Child School for a Dance/Theater auditorium would be compatible with the quiet and study of a Public Library on the first floor of the building due to the noise and activity taking place from the Dance/Theater auditorium.

Mr. Fererra replied:
We are cognizant of the sound issues. Our plans include soundproofing all of our rooms
Hudson Related Master Leaseholder David Kramer answered question regarding 504 Main Street at Retail Town Hall Meeting held last October. Here's what he had to say.

Is there need of another space for theater and dance performances on Roosevelt Island? The Main Street Theater & Dance Alliance has existing  space for such purposes. There's also the outdoor Eastwood Amphitheater which will have Shakespeare performances this summer.


YetAnotherRIer said...

Ok, I am stunned. Have you guys ever been to the library here on Roosevelt Island (or pretty much any NYPL branch)? There is no way that they can be considered a place for quiet study. It's always noisy. There are always phones going off, teenagers or staff talking loudly etc. etc. It's 180 degrees from what I remember a library is supposed to be when I grew up in a different corner of this world.

commonsense540 said...

Let's build a bigger underused Library that might not be staffed or open more than a few days a week during these tough budget times. Go get them RI

YetAnotherRIer said...

How can anybody argue against a bigger library branch on NYC? The current one is way too small space-wise and the staff they have will be sufficient to run a bigger place. I assume you'd rather want us all go to B&N instead?

Anonymous said...

Anything they do with the space would be better than it is right now... EMPTY. Let's go Hudson/Related... we're waiting for these spaces to start filling up.

CheshireKitty said...

In other, larger branches there are areas/floors set aside for children, teens, and adults, and sometimes even separate enclosed story-telling rooms.  All these areas - children, teen, adult - on RI are squashed into one small room.  That is why it is impossible to find a quiet area - it's physically impossible.  Anybody who thinks all libraries today are circuses should visit some of the newer branches, such as Battery Park City or Bronx Library Center.  At these branches, because there is sufficient room, there are plenty of areas of quiet study, as well as areas set aside for children/teens. 

CheshireKitty said...

Has the Child School thought about approaching the owner of Island House to lease the unused swimming pool, and turn that space into an arts center for the Child School?  

That space is already adjacent to existing Child School property (if I am not mistaken) and would thus make it easier for Child School students to take arts classes there.  If I am not mistaken, the square footage of the unused swimming pool exceeds that of the 2nd floor of 540.  The smart thing for the 2nd floor at 504 Main St would be to have it set aside for the Library for programs/classes as well as  meeting/community use (including use by the Child School if requested).  First priority, however, would go to the Library and its programming.