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Election, Lawsuit May Decide Fate Of Historic, Abandoned P.S. 64

The empty, historically designated P.S. 64 building in the East Village

A beautiful, old school building in the East Village has sat empty for nearly 20 years, but the fight over its fate rages on.

Gregg Singer purchased P.S. 64 from the City of New York at auction in 1998 with the intent to demolish it and build from the ground up, but local citizens have been fighting him at every turn with the goal of restoring the building to public ownership. In 2006, they succeeded in getting the school landmarked, and Singer has failed to get plans to convert it into a college dormitory approved by the city.

Two approaching dates could have a significant factor in the building's future: Sept. 12 and Sept. 20. The democratic primary for the City Council district is Tuesday, and candidates have varying stances. A lawsuit against Singer has its next court date on the 20th, Crain's New York reports.

Three of the five candidates for the primary — Carlina Rivera, Ronnie Cho and Jorge Vasquez — support the community's desire to restore public ownership of P.S. 64, while two, Jasmine Sanchez and Mary Silver, acknowledge Singer's ownership and property rights and expressed willingness to work with him.

Onyx Asset Management, Singer's financial backer in his acquisition, filed suit against the developer for wasting money on the project in 2015, with the intent of kicking him off the project. At the time of the filing, Onyx expressed the desire to sell the building but complained that Singer's failed development plans caused the mortgage to default.

With the deeply Democratic district set to go to whoever wins the Sept. 12 primary, plans to either finish development of the site or sell it back to the city or another public entity could accelerate by the end of the month. The result could be a signpost in East Village's fight for, and against, modernization.