By Sandra Rodriguez-Ewing, for CNN • Updated 14th July 2018
What started as a health care facility in Manhattan may soon become an ice skating rink
The Ezekiel Emanuel Lifelong Learning Center, a nonprofit learning center for HIV/AIDS patients in East Harlem, has been a fixture on East 78th Street for more than a decade, with a large red sign for its tutoring center perched in the middle of a block that’s known locally as Harlem’s “boulevard of riches.”
This year, the Ezekiel Emanuel Lifelong Learning Center’s future was uncertain due to questions over what went wrong in the original negotiations for its lease, which was slated to expire this year.
“To lose something of this magnitude would be devastating,” says executive director Carol Gifford.
In March, Gifford noticed a dispute in which a developer disputed whether the lease had been signed.
“It was obvious that it wasn’t been signed … We were noncompliant with the rent,” she says.
Gifford contacted the project’s financier, Goldin Partners. The developer demanded that the rent be raised from the $4,000 monthly stipend to $11,000, Gifford says.
“We said ‘No’ because we didn’t have the funds,” Gifford says. “We said, ‘Look, we’ve been paying this rent. We’re not turning our backs on this community.’”
Goldin Partners and the nonprofit later reached an agreement in which the $11,000 would be reduced to $7,000 and Gifford would receive a 20% equity stake in the building.