Possible Repair & Rebuild Options
The Muste Institute’s Board of Directors is considering several options to deal with 339 Lafayette’s structural problems. These include:
• Selling the building and buying an office loft condominium that could house the Muste Institute’s offices, the War Resisters League, and other activist groups.
• Selling off the ground floor as a separate retail condominium and using the proceeds to make the necessary repairs.
• Borrowing the money to do the necessary repairs, and providing a long-term net lease to a commercial company for the ground floor spaces.
• A capital campaign/fundraising effort to make the repairs and renovate the interior space.
Friends of 339 favors the last two options, as our priority is to assure that the Peace Pentagon remains in the hands of peace activists for years to come. If we’re able to raise enough money, we would like to create a solid and permanent movement community center in New York. This situation presents a unique opportunity to transform this landmark building into a powerful and sustainable cornerstone of progressive ideals, while simultaneously making a prominent statement against the consumer excess rapidly engulfing the neighborhood around it.
Should the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute decide to retain ownership of the building, we could:
With 2 million dollars: Repair the building and allow it to continue in a condition similar to its present form.
With 4 million dollars: Repair and renovate the Peace Pentagon, modernizing and greening its architecture, and provide needed accessibility.
With 10 million dollars: Rebuild 339 Lafayette Street and add two more floors, increasing the space for movement activities by 50 percent, and create a state-of-the-art green building with full accessibility
With 25 to 50 million dollars: Purchase the building next door to 339 Lafayette Street, rebuild 339 and double its floors, creating a green center for diverse activism that would be unrivaled, not just in New York City, but in the whole nation. This complex could house meeting space, performance space, a progressive bookstore and offices for dozens of movement organizations.
Allowing the building to be sold would be heartbreaking. The sale of the building in its state of disrepair would allow us to continue our movement work as owners of a loft in an otherwise commercial building. Activists would have to show their ID cards to enter, and complaints by neighbors might infringe on the activities that owning a building makes possible. Banners hanging from windows would be a thing of the past. Hallways festooned with literature that inspires visitors to think in new ways would be replaced by the uniformity that commercial buildings impose.