Advocates called for the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, hoping that he will help them purchase the building with city funds to keep the building on Ainslie Street in Williamsburg and save the Swinging Sixties Senior Center and Small World Day Care centers.
“For too long in Williamsburg, private profit has trumped public benefit,” said Councilman Antonio Reynoso. “This center was built and supported for decades by this community. We’re asking that the mayor step in and help us keep it in the community’s hands.”
The center, located at 211 Ainslie Street, has been the home of the day care and senior centers for the past 40 years. Both programs serve low and moderate-income residents.
It also is considered North Brooklyn’s unofficial town hall, as it hosts the monthly meeting of Community Board 1 and other community events. The building, built back in the 70’s, was paid for with public money, which is why advocates argue it should remain in public hands.
Last year a developer, Harry Einhorn, purchased the building for $4.5 million and said he would raise the rent to $40,000 per month, or a 20-percent increase.
Advocates believe this is being used as a tactic to force the centers out, allowing Einhorn to tear the existing building down.
Both Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and State Senator Martin Dilan sponsored a bill in the state legislature that would allow eminent domain to be implemented to take back the center.
“The centers at Ainslie Street should be looked to as a model for the development of similar programs and services throughout the city, not as an investment opportunity for high-priced condominiums,” Dilan said.