A Block Party for ‘The Women’s Building’

  • On Saturday Sept. 25, a community block party in Chelsea informed residents and others about plans for "The Women's Building." (Photos by Karen Pennar for Voices of NY)
Community residents and activists were on hand Sept. 25 for a block party in Chelsea to celebrate and publicize plans to convert the former Bayview Correctional Facility into “The Women’s Building” – a place where nonprofits that work to advance the rights of girls and women will be housed.

Visitors were urged to share their thoughts for what The Women’s Building should mean and represent, and their words and photos were posted on a wall on West 20th Street. Meanwhile, singers and dancers encouraged people to join in the celebration, while groups from the Women’s City Club of New York, “dedicated to improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers,” to Madre, which supports women’s rights worldwide, gave out information at booths along the street. Representatives of Girls that Build, a new nonprofit formed to mentor and support girls and women who seek employment in the building trades, also were on hand.

Bayview was a medium security prison for women until 2012. Its 153 remaining residents were evacuated before Hurricane Sandy and the building, at 20th Street and 11th Avenue, sustained damage and has been closed since. Built in 1931, the nine-story building originally was a Seamen’s House YMCA catering to mariners on the Chelsea waterfront.

In October 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans for transformation of the building into The Women’s Building. The NoVo Foundation, which says it is “one of the largest private foundations in the world to support initiatives focused explicitly on girls and women,” and the Goren Group, founded by developer Lela Goren, are spearheading the project. Deborah Berke Partners won the international design competition for the project, which is expected to be completed in four or five years.

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