Renovations begin on new BCA headquarters

(l-r) John Bonizio, president, Westchester Square BID; Joseph Kelleher; Councilman James Vacca; Deirdre Scott, BCA project director; Congressman Joseph Crowley; Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner of NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs; Charles Rice-Gonzalez, BCA board chairman; Eileen Newman; BCA board member; Gayla Jennings O’Byrne, formerly with JP Morgan Chase, and Feniosky Peña-Mora, Department of Design and Construction commissioner.
Photo by Aracelis Batista

Construction on The Bronx Council on the Art’s long awaited new home at a former bank building in Westchester Square is underway.

After a long delay, the former Washington Mutual branch at 2700 East Tremont Avenue that was donated by J.P. Morgan Chase Bank some five years ago is now being renovated to house BCA headquarters.

The $5.6 million renovation project, funded by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs with money allocated by local elected officials, will convert the 7,300 former bank into a first-class artistic hub by the fall of 2017.

A kick-off celebration for the ‘BCA@2700’ with elected officials, business and civic leaders, artists and community members was held on Friday, December 9.

Congressman Joseph Crowley, who helped broker the donation from J.P. Morgan Chase, called the bank a good cooperate citizen and lauded the roughly $900,000 gifting of the building in 2011.

“The construction for the Bronx Council on the Arts’ new headquarters is not just an exciting development for the Westchester Square community, but for the entire borough of the Bronx as a cradle for the arts,” Crowley.

Councilman James Vacca was praised at the kick off by Crowley and by John Bonizio, Westchester Square Business Improvement District president, for his advocacy of Westchester Square.

The councilman said that the city bureaucracy does not always move at the pace that many would like, but expressed his happiness to see the project underway.

“This is a prime example of a public-private partnership,” said Vacca, who providing funding for the renovations along with Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, added that the borough is ‘coming back more every day.’

“This is important because the borough of the Bronx is the borough of culture,” said Diaz in his remarks, adding “We certainly need to push forward in the conversation of having cultural institutions where our creative class can continue to grow…that is what is going to happen in this building.”

The project will include an extensive reworking of the building’s interior to accommodate professional development workshops, grant writing, administrative offices, artistic programs, and artist development workshops.

“The new BCA@2700 headquarters will house all of BCA’s staff and operations including: cultural grant-making, the Bronx Writers Center, multidisciplinary arts, exhibits, community programs, and advocacy activities,” said Deirdre Scott, BCA project coordinator and former executive director.

Feniosky Peña-Mora, NYC Department of Design and Construction commissioner, said the building would include flexible space that will allow BCA to use the area in multiple arrangements.

DDC is managing the project on behalf of the DCA.

The features of the newly remodeled building will include LEED Silver standards for environmental responsibility, ample natural lighting and modern lighting and climate control systems.

Tom Finkelpearl, DCA commissioner, said that artists in the borough had a strong advocate and supporter in BCA.

“We are proud to support this renovation project, helping to establish a new cultural hub and provide BCA the space it needs to serve the borough’s vibrant cultural community,” he said.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Construction on the Bronx Council on the Arts’s new headquarters at 2700 E. Tremont Avenue is now underway with an expected completion by fall 2017.
Photo courtesy of DDC

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