Makor's Upper East Side Story
Is the central address of young Jewish hipness moving cross-town from the Upper West to the
That’s the question in the air this week in the wake of the 92nd Street Y’s surprising announcement that Makor, the 7-year-old cultural mecca for young Jews on West 67th Street, will be moving across Central Park to join its parent organization at 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue.
The move is scheduled to occur in the next three to five years, during which time the Y’s building will undergo a major renovation. Meanwhile, Makor’s programming is slated to move to a different, as yet undecided location. The
The cultural center which helped launch the career of jazz singer Norah Jones and arguably raised the Jewish cultural bar with forward-thinking musical programming, lectures and films was purchased by philanthropist Michael Steinhardt in 1997 for $16 million; it is currently valued at $25 million, according to press reports.
The relocation of Makor raises questions that transcend issues of
According to Deborah Grubman, senior vice president at Corcoran, the leading residential real estate company, the traditional framework of New York’s real estate dividing the city’s neighborhoods into affordable and exorbitantly expensive is no longer in place. In lieu of distinct neighborhood-based price tags, she said,
There are no longer inexpensive areas, said Grubman. Certain buildings and locations will command a high price, and others will not. As a result, she said, young people seeking affordable housing are no longer likely to congregate, as they did in past decades, in a specific neighborhood.
For young Jews, like young people citywide, that neighborhood for years was the
The implications of such a shift, said Alix Friedman, a spokeswoman for the Y, are that a center like Makor can no longer be said to have an attachment to a particular neighborhood.
Makor’s patrons are more geographically dispersed than you might think, she said. Only 17 percent of them come from the
And yet, for Makor’s patrons, the reactions seem to vary by ZIP code.
Aimee Friedman, 26, the author of young adult best seller
“I feel the
Echoing those sentiments, Dov Rosenblatt, the singer of the band Blue Fringe and a fixture on Makor’s stage, said that although the crowd in attendance might be diverse, there was a point to be made for proximity.
“Makor was right there, right near everybody”, he said. “It was also a classy venue for all the arts to meet, and the
And while Rosenblatt said he was not opposed to the idea of moving Makor’s programming to the East Side, he liked the idea of the Y having a presence on both sides of
For Makor’s patrons who live on the
Joel Kandy, a 30-year-old analyst who lives on
“More and more young people are moving to the
“Look at David Broza”, he added, referring to the Israeli singer’s tradition of holding a Christmas Eve concert at the
The Y’s Alix Friedman concurs, offering statistics to support the claim that the
As the demographics change, so must programming, said Sol Adler, the
“The Y has been around for 132 years”, he said “and no program here looks like it did 132 years ago, 30 years ago or three years ago. They all evolve according to the population. By the time Makor comes into the building, whoever it is that’s creating the program will be designing what’s optimal for the moment.“
Adler said that the Y was looking forward to creating on the
Still, selling Makor’s current property may prove difficult. Speaking to The New York Sun last week, Tim Sheehan, a senior vice president at CB Richard Ellis, the real estate company that is handling the sale, said that the property is unusual because it sits on a double-wide lot, and from the time it was built in 1904 has never been used as a private home.
Meanwhile, Adler said he was looking for a temporary home to house Makor’s programs until the renovation of the Y is complete. Adler said he has looked at more than 30 locations all over the city, and is currently focusing on six properties.
None of them have gotten to the point where it looks like we’re negotiating a lease, he said, but termed the locations he was considering places of real interest.
And what, he was asked, if the temporary location proves a hit?
“The only thing that the board has approved is to move Makor to the