A unique groundbreaking on Friday is helping the Lower East Side Girls Club get the headquarters it always wanted and bring new affordable housing to the community. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
Community leaders and elected officials gathered Friday to break ground on a $35 million project that will give the Lower East Side Girls Club its first real home since the organization was founded in 1996.
Several girls were checking out the construction site on Avenue D between East Seventh and Eighth Streets, which will one day be their new home away from home.
"This is my real dream, like my dream is coming true," said LES Girls Club member Sarah Trieu.
The club currently rents out five locations where it runs its programming for girls ages eight to 23.
"This is called the Lower East Side Girls Club Center for Community -- it's really for all ages, it's inter-generational. We're even going to have a few boys," said LES Girls Club co-founder Lyn Pentecost.
The project also includes a housing component of 78 apartments. Half of them will be rented through a city lottery for low- and middle-income New Yorkers and the other half at market rate by developers from The Dermot Company.
"Between the combination of the housing and the non-profit Lower East Side Girls Club, I think you've got one of the kinds of projects that the city wants to be doing throughout the city really," said Stephen Benjamin of The Dermot Company.
The project is being developed under the mayor's new housing marketplace plan, which aims to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014.
For Girls Club members, the excitement is all about their future digs, which will include a planetarium, classrooms, a library, and studios for dance, yoga and art. The Girls Club raised $18.5 million for the project through a combination of public and private funding...
"We just stay at one place like home," said LES Girls Club member Emily Balverde.
"We can do more fun things and be around more girls and have fun together and it's kind of like a family," said LES Girls Club member Jada Santos.
Right now, 400 young people benefit from LES Girls Club programs. The new center will allow that number to triple. The project is expected to be complete in the summer or fall of 2012.