Updated 02/01/2012 12:08 AM
NY1 Exclusive: Historic Erasmus High School Building To Be Preserved Under New Plan
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is prepping for his 11th State of the Borough speech, and NY1 has learned that he’ll use it to announce a new project that preserves part of the borough's history while serving one of its thriving communities. NY1’s Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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The building in the center of the Erasmus Hall High School campus was built as a school in 1786 when Flatbush was its own town. It's been falling into disrepair for decades, but NY1 has learned the wooden structure will be preserved.
With help from the city, state and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, it'll become the permanent home for the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"This is a rare partnership, and we were working on this for over 10 years,” said Roy Hastick, president of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce.
Markowitz will make it official Wednesday night in his State of the Borough address.
"I'll be pledging a million dollars, and there is already a couple of million dollars that the State of New York has provided and additional money from the New York City Council. And together we estimate that he'll need about $7 million, but we're well on our way to making the dream come true," said Markowitz.
The Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce has been operating at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the past 15 years.
The chamber started in Brooklyn in 1985 to promote economic development. Hastick said the new space will be a cultural and trade center in the heart of the city's Caribbean community: Flatbush.
"We feel that it's important for not only Caribbean Americans but people in general, for young people to be mentored and also to make sure that we can work with them, partner with Erasmus High School to teach new skills and serve as mentors to some of the students who are there," said Hastick.
Preserving this site is also important to the school's alumni association. It's been struggling for years to save the building.
It's no longer in use, but through the decades it served as an administration office, a college counseling center and a museum of education highlighting its notable alumni, including Barbara Streisand, Eli Wallach and Beverly Sills. Now part of the building will be restored as a museum.
"This is really a cause to celebrate," said Markowitz.
Officials hope to break ground this year.