The Hoboken Community Center has launched an online survey seeking the public’s help to determine what type of recreational programs and cultural spaces the community wants the center to provide.
The center (HCC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization at 1301 Washington St. in the building that previously housed the YMCA, which it plans to renovate to provide a community center for the whole city.
“Since the YMCA closed in 2010 due to declining membership and challenging economic pressure, the needs of the Hoboken community have changed significantly, and we are exploring a variety of models for the future of our building, including creating a mini version of [New York’s] 92nd Street Y,” said Ken Nilsen, president of the Hoboken Community Center. “We are aggressively moving ahead with the planning process for this project, and we want to hear from as many people as possible to make sure this facility is a space that reflects the community’s vision and needs.”
The building opened in 1927 as the Hoboken-North Hudson YMCA, serving the dual purpose of providing housing to low-income men and offering affordable recreational programs for the local community.
In 2010, due to insufficient funds, the YMCA closed the recreational side of the operation without warning.
At the time, the board president said that the board never planned to shut down all services during renovations, and had expected to choreograph construction around the ongoing programs as best they could. But funding for the construction stalled, and the institution was bleeding money.
When the board was hit with a perfect storm of construction delays, an economic downturn, and increased competition from other gyms, the recreational arm closed.
In spring of 2015 the national YMCA organization “disassociated” from the building.
Today, the nonprofit manages the residential facility, which was extensively renovated in 2013 and contains three levels of single-room occupancy for men. It provides affordable housing for 96 single men in the north section of the building, which is accessed independently from the recreational center.
The southern portion contains three levels of currently vacant former recreation space totaling approximately 37,500 square feet, which has fallen into disrepair and requires renovation.
A new vision
According to a press release, in order to begin, the HCC has retained an experienced planning firm and is working with community partners and stakeholders, including the city, the Public Library, the Board of Education, and others. They are evaluating the feasibility of repurposing the currently vacant former recreational portion as community space for a variety of functions.
These functions could include an uptown branch of the Public Library, recreational facilities, and art classrooms.
The proposed project may include renovation of the historic existing lap pool in the lower level of the building; renovation of the gym, basketball court, suspended track; and remodeling three vacant levels for multi-purpose recreation, learning, public meeting, and culturally-focused programs.
The proposed project will also include infrastructure improvements to repair or replace systems that are beyond their expected service life, as well as safety improvements and compliance with accessibility codes.
The public survey seeks to identify the community’s needs and preferences regarding possible uses of these spaces.
The survey will be open through Sept. 30, and is available at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/HobokenCC