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YWCA rehab nears completion

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After several tense months, the stalled renovation of the YWCA on Atlantic Avenue is back on track.

The 11−story building, located on the corner of Third and Atlantic avenues, houses single women, many of whom are working poor, domestic violence survivors, formerly incarcerated, mentally ill or were formerly homeless.

The $26 million dollar project includes the renovation of 218 existing SRO (single room occupancy) units and the construction of 84 new low−income studio apartments.

It also includes construction of a community center on the first two floors dedicated to social justice programs.

The city’s Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and Housing and Preservation Development (HPD) helped fund the project.

The plan hit a bureaucratic snag, however, several months ago after the original architect unceremoniously left the project and bank financiers refused to pay workers to continue.

This led to a stoppage of work and rumors amongst tenants that the building would have to be sold and they might be displaced.

Ultimately, YWCA Executive Director Martha Kamber wrote several local elected officials, including Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Council member David Yassky, who helped intervene in the matter.

Kamber also found another architect.

About 90 percent of the building renovation is now complete, including all of the new housing units, and there is only 12 to 16 weeks of work remaining to finish the community center located on the first two floors, said Kamber.

Kamber said Tri Line Contracting, a minority−owned business, will continue on with the project through completion, and that Nandinee Phookan Architects, P.C., a minority− and female−owned Brooklyn−based architecture firm, has been hired to complete the project.

The work continuation assures that the YWCA, first established in 1888, will remain ongoing for years to come, she said.

“We have an excellent project team now and we are very excited about getting back to work,” said Kamber. “We effectively saved our building and look forward to another 120 years of service to the borough of Brooklyn.”

Kamber said once complete, the community center will provide community programs as well as office and public meeting space to other small grassroots non−profits throughout the borough.

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