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A New York Neighborhood Partnership Begets Architectural Innovation

Posted by Stephanie Dockery
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The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center cultivates, presents and preserves Puerto Rican and Latino/multicultural work in its Lower East Side home. The center promotes artists and performance events that reflect the cultural diversity of its location. Named for a poet, journalist, and activist, the building fulfills the passions of Clemente Soto Vélez, who founded literary and community organizations, with a specific emphasis on community empowerment. The building that houses such performances and community connectivity was formerly P.S. 160, at 107 Suffolk Street.

Around the corner at 100 Norfolk Street, JMH Acquisitions will be constructing a glass, cantilevered condominium building that will be a neighbor to Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center. Douglas Elliman Real Estate has been tasked with selling the building’s units. Established in 1911, Douglas Elliman is the region’s largest real estate company and the fourth largest in the nation, primarily operating in New York and South Florida, and has a vast international presence in over 43 countries across six continents.

 

After corresponding with Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center a few years ago to inquire about development plans for their parking lot, JMH Acquisitions discovered that Clemente Soto Vélez Center was not just another Lower East Side building, but rather a historic location and a vibrant community center. After touring the building, Ariel Tirosh of Douglas Elliman was eager to partner with the organization in a way that benefited both parties. Tirosh identified Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center’s parking lot as the perfect location for a satellite “display gallery” in which to showcase the upcoming 100 Norfolk condominium. The gallery will be housed within a custom–made, geodesic dome, 44 feet in diameter and 22 feet high, creating an architecturally dramatic space that will attract potential condominium buyers. This weatherproof and temperature-regulated structure will serve as a sales office for 100 Norfolk, and will provide potential buyers with a depiction of the neighborhood as a future home. It will also be used by Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center as an additional space for seated dinners and cultural events.Tirosh believes the partnership “reflects very well on [reasons for] developers to show interest in the community, and to work towards benefitting the community while conducting business in the neighborhood. It is very human to improve the neighborhood while developing real estate.” While using the parking lot space, JMH Acquisition also plans to renovate Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center’s fence and first-floor restroom facilities, a space their clients will be using. Once all units are sold, the geodesic dome will be left to Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center. In total, the remodeling services and dome donation will make an overwhelming difference to the organization.

Jan Hanvik, executive director of Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, is particularly excited about the dome acquisition, since the dome will bolster their presentation of dance and music performances as well as the visual art and theater performances for which Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center is perhaps best known. Hanvik sees the dome as a way to create “possible demand and appeal for the neighborhood, as community members have already approached the center about using the dome for fundraisers and community events.” There is a high demand for space for arts activities, and the dome will provide more opportunities for the center to expand its programs and increase venue rentals.

Both Ariel Tirosh of Douglas Elliman and Jan Havik of Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center have discovered a way to beautify the neighborhood, develop the community, and increase their audiences by strategically implementing this win-win partnership.

 

Do you know of or have an arts-business partnership in NYC? We'd love to hear about it and share it with our local and national audiences. Send us your stories!

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