Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Goldstein Break Ground on New Fiterman Hall

December 2, 2009 | The University

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, City University Chancellor Dr. Matthew Goldstein, Dormitory Authority of the State of New York Executive Director Paul T. Williams Jr., and Judy Rapfogel, Chief of Staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, today broke ground on the new $259 million Fiterman Hall in Lower Manhattan for the Borough of Manhattan Community College. The 15-story Fiterman Hall building adjacent to the World Trade Center site was severely damaged in the September 11th attacks.

The new state-of-the-art facility will be an environmentally friendly building with 96 classrooms, office space, community gathering areas, a small conference center, art gallery and cafe. It is expected to be completed in 2012. Joining Mayor Bloomberg at the groundbreaking, which took place at Greenwich Street adjacent to the building site, were CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson, Borough of Manhattan Community College President Antonio Pérez, Alliance for Downtown New York Chairman Robert R. Douglass, Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin, and Steve Fiterman, son of Miles and Shirley Fiterman, the donors of the original Fiterman Hall to CUNY.

“Fiterman Hall’s reconstruction will be the latest milestone in Lower Manhattan’s remarkable comeback, and its transformation into a vibrant, 24/7, family-friendly community,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This new world-class academic building is an investment not only in Borough of Manhattan Community College, but in the students and faculty that will occupy the building and the people that live and work in Lower Manhattan.”

“The start of construction on the new Fiterman Hall is a significant milestone for both the BMCC family and lower Manhattan,” said Governor Paterson. “The state-of-the-art facility will provide the space needed to support a center of learning and will symbolize the resurgence of an area devastated by terror. I applaud the many individuals and organizations who committed to this project and extend my heartfelt congratulations to the BMCC students, faculty and community.”

“This is a long-awaited day in the reconstruction of my Lower Manhattan community,” said Speaker Silver. “And it is an especially gratifying day for me, as the careful deconstruction and reconstruction of Fiterman Hall has been at the forefront of my efforts to bring my hometown community back from the devastation of September 11. I look forward with great anticipation to the day when we celebrate the grand re-opening of Fiterman Hall.”

“The Council has a long record of funding CUNY capital projects, so we are delighted to witness the start of reconstruction of Fiterman Hall,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This is great news for Borough of Manhattan Community College and all of Lower Manhattan. When complete in 2012, it will offer world-class academic facilities for the BMCC community, and it will play a significant role in Lower Manhattan’s ongoing revival.”

“Upon its completion, Fiterman Hall will be not just a 14-story educational facility but another important piece in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan,” said Borough President Stringer. “As a CUNY graduate I am proud to take part in today’s groundbreaking, and I look forward to the day that students can once again utilize the resources at Fiterman Hall.”

“A powerful signal has been sent throughout the world confirming that our society deeply values higher education opportunity here in downtown Manhattan,” said CUNY Chancellor Goldstein.

“The rebuilding of Fiterman Hall is a momentous occasion for BMCC students and the entire Lower Manhattan community,” said Borough of Manhattan Community College President Pérez. “The tragic destruction of Fiterman Hall on 9/11 brought together community leaders, political leaders, government agencies at the local, state and federal level, and many other entities to show our students that we believe in their future, and that the future of our City depends on our investment in their education today.”

“This is a tremendous step forward,” said Alliance for Downtown New York Chairman Robert R. Douglass. “The deconstruction and reconstruction of Fiterman Hall is critical to maintaining Lower Manhattan’s competitive position as one of the world’s great business and residential districts.”

“Community Board 1 is extremely gratified to see that the rebuilding of one of the City’s key educational facilities will now rise from the ashes of Ground Zero,” said Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin. “There is no better way to reflect the rebirth of our area than by educating the next generation of students and teaching them tolerance and the values that embody our great city and country.”

Borough of Manhattan Community College, which was originally designed to accommodate roughly 10,000 students, today serves more than twice that number. The new Fiterman Hall will provide space for the college’s ongoing expansion. The total cost of the project is $325 million, which included $66 million for the deconstruction and decontamination of the old building and $259 million for the construction of the new one. Of the $325 million, $139 million is being provided by the City with the balance coming from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Fiterman Hall, which served as an extension of the nearby Borough of Manhattan Community College campus starting in 1993, was directly adjacent to Ground Zero. When it was damaged on September 11, 2001, the college lost one-third of its classroom space, just as community college enrollment began a dramatic rise nationwide. A World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee, part of Community Board 1 in Lower Manhattan and led by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was closely involved in plans to raze and rebuild Fiterman Hall, which was not only structurally damaged, but contaminated with World Trade Center ash and toxic debris.

During the eight years since 9/11, Borough of Manhattan Community College has been a leader among community colleges in the region and nationwide, by continuing to develop degree- and non-degree programs meeting the educational and workforce training needs of New Yorkers striving to change careers or upgrade their current employment in these challenging economic times—students who come from 155 countries, and earn associate degrees in more than 20 fields.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Office of the Mayor:  Stu Loeser / Andrew Brent   (212) 788-2958
BMCC:  Barry Rosen  (212) 220-1238