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Building blocks for a new era - Mayor touts new center, housing, too

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Mayor Bloomberg came to the heart of Coney Island’s residential community to announce the imminent construction of a $56 million community center and affordable housing complex. “This community center and affordable housing complex was one of the things residents indicated they needed most,” said Bloomberg in making the announcement at P.S. 329, 2929 West 30th Street. “By providing area residents with a center for active recreation and an affordable place to live, this project will go a long way to strengthening Coney Island’s residential community,” he added. The project’s location is next to the school on West 30th Street between Neptune and Surf Avenues. The plan calls for a 40,000-square-foot community center including a six-lane swimming pool, a full-court gymnasium, fitness and multi-purpose rooms, a double height social room and office space. The YMCA of Greater New York will own and operate the community center. The housing component, built next to the community center, will have 152 cooperative residential units in two buildings of seven and 11 stories. The co-ops will include studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom units, 75 percent of which will be affordable for low- and middle-income families. Under the plan, the city will sell its city-owned property next to the school to developers ELH Management, KB Companies and Galaxy General Contracting for $1 and contribute $5 million toward the construction of the community center. The developers were picked through a city-issued Request for Proposals (RFP) process in May 2006. The city’s Housing Develop-ment Corporation (HDC) will partly finance the housing component through the agency’s Affordable Cooperative Housing Program and the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation. The project is also expected to create 240 construction jobs, 42 full-time jobs and 125 part-time jobs for the area. Construction is anticipated to begin in fall 2008 and be completed in summer 2009. City Councilmember Domenic Recchia said the community center is a fulfillment of a promise he made to that area of Coney Island when he was first ran for City Council in 2001. Then in September 2003, when the city and Borough President created the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC), which in turn created a strategic plan to revitalize the area and make it a year-round destination, Recchia said he insisted that the community center be put on the front burner. The city is expected to submit a preliminary comprehensive rezoning of Coney Island by late spring 2007. “I made a commitment to the community that I would bring back a community center for their uses and it was a major campaign issue,” said Recchia. “The community said we’ll vote for you, but you have to get us a community center because teenagers have nowhere to go at night,” he added. The YMCA will utilize its Sliding Scale Membership Program for the community center that uses a flexible rate structure to assure that no one is turned away due to financial circumstances, said YMCA of Greater New York President and CEO Jack Lund. Lund pledged to partner with local schools to create complementary programs for youth and teens’ growth and development. “As one of the city’s leading youth service organizations, we will provide much-needed after-school programs, teen leadership initiatives, healthy kids programs, wellness initiatives, a vast array of other important services, and of course, plain old fun,” said Lund. “The ‘Y’ is committed to building strong kids, strong families and strong communities, and we’re very glad to have a presence here in Coney Island,” he added.

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