19th Century Bank Turning Into Arts Education Center
By Linda Collins
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
EAST NEW YORK â€” Downtown Brooklyn developer Ron Hershco of United Homes has donated a building to Rush East New York, part of a network of sites under the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.
Rush was founded as a not-for-profit foundation to focus on the arts, professional development for artists and arts education in the schools and particularly for disadvantaged youth.
The donated East New York building, at 2590 Atlantic Ave. near Georgia Avenue, is â€śa lovely old 19th century bank building with a first floor and facade that are just beautiful,â€ť said Meridith McNeal, who will serve as the new locationâ€™s director.
Hershco, whose current downtown-area projects include the two 40-story Oro towers at Gold Street and Flatbush Avenue Extension, and 133 Water St. in DUMBO, told the Eagle yesterday he was not familiar with the Rush Foundation before Borough President Marty Markowitz introduced him to the organization.
â€śI was at a meeting with him and I told him I had this building and had no use for it and I wanted to donate it to a good organization,â€ť Hershco said. â€śSo his office made the connection.â€ť
He not only donated the building, however, he has also worked with Rush East New York on the renovation, even offering architectural services from his office.
â€śThey worked with us on our own vision,â€ť said McNeal. â€śWeâ€™ve created the interior to our specifications.â€ť
McNeal proudly explained that their vision was a â€śgreenâ€ť one and included rooftop gardens and green walls. Green walls are growing walls that serve the same purpose as green roofs, protecting, insulating, reducing energy usage and helping with drainage, she said. Both will be created and maintained by Rush partner the Horticultural Society of New York (HSNY).
And, in addition to the green space, there will be street-level professional gallery space, two art studio classrooms, a student art gallery, four artist studios (â€śweâ€™ll be putting out a call to working and teaching artists for theseâ€ť), and office space free of charge on a time-limited basis for local not-for-profits.
McNeal hopes it will be ready to open in the spring. In the meantime, she is working out of the Corridor Gallery in Clinton Hill.
This is not the first building donation Hershco has made. Several years ago the Eagle reported that he had constructed and donated a new public school building in Far Rockaway so the children in some homes he was building would have a nearby school to attend.
The Long Island resident is known for successfully creating a construction firm that is involved not only in high-end, high-rise condo development (Oro) but in urban development and affordable housing throughout the city.
Â© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2007
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