Though New York City’s real estate climate is anything but sunny, this year, the Lower East Side Girls Club (in partnership with the Dermot Company, a high-profile local developer) will break ground on a new 30,000–square foot, mixed-use arts and community center on the corner of 7th Street and Avenue D. It will be the first and only Girls Club facility in NYC (when boys and girls clubs nationwide joined in 1986, the Boys Club of New York, operating on the LES, opted out of the merger, leaving the neighborhood’s girls to develop their own organization). Now, says the Girls Club’s web site, “this sustainably built, ‘green,’ state-of-the-art capital project will enable us to triple our program capacity.”
In addition to an expanded version of their Sweet Things Bake Shop, the LESGC’s signature social enterprise, the four-story center will contain open-air space for a farmers’ market, a fair trade bookstore and gift shop, a library for after-school tutoring and book club meetings, a full dome planetarium, a commercial kitchen and culinary training center, a leadership training site for career counseling, an amphitheater, and—if you can believe it—much, much more. The true heart of the project, though, is a science, health, and environmental center that will be available to all community youth.
The building’s construction mirrors the Club’s emphasis on education; with all systems visible (no drop ceilings), the structure itself will be a teaching tool. Architects Custogeorge Tooman & Allen anticipate a LEED gold rating for the building — which will be outfitted with integrated photovoltaics, an “intensive and extensive” green roofing plan, and water-saving fixtures and drainage systems. Fortunately, the kids aren’t the only ones who will get to enjoy this ambitious development — the building will also house two commercial spaces and 72 mixed-income residential apartments.