The project will renovate a historic 8,400-square foot firehouse for use as the new headquarters for the Frank H. Williams Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, a vibrant Caribbean cultural space with a number of community-serving uses.
NYCEDC is managing the renovation of a former firehouse located at 120 East 125th Street in East Harlem on behalf of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (NYCDCLA). Once completed, the building will be occupied by the Franklin H. Williams Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), which will use the space as a home for concerts, gallery tours, educational programming, workshops, performances, conferences, professional development sessions, spiritual gatherings, and artist residencies. The approximately $8M project (including approximately $6M in city capital and approximately $2M in private support) hopes to preserve the character and appearance of the 19th century firehouse building. CCCADI was selected as a result of a Request for Proposals issued by NYCEDC, in collaboration with the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
Once home to the FDNY’s Engine Company Number 36, the firehouse at 120 East 125th Street—which received landmark status in 1997—was decommissioned in May 2003. In 2007, City Council Member Mark-Viverito established a community steering committee to help develop guidelines for the reuse and development of the firehouse site. NYCEDC and HPD then used those guidelines to craft the Request for Proposals (RFP).
In August 2008, NYCEDC announced CCCADI as the winner of the RFP and as its partner in the redevelopment of the firehouse. CCCADI is dedicated to researching, documenting and promulgating the diversity of African racial and cultural traditions in the Americas, and plans to use the redeveloped firehouse site as its new headquarters. CCCADI’s design for the restored East Harlem building will feature a café, shop, computer center, and recording studio Plans also include exhibition and performance space, flexible multi-use spaces, kitchen facilities, classrooms, and CCCADI offices.
As part of the scope of the project, NYCEDC and CCCADI will and restore and preserve the building’s landmark façade. Building improvements will include the installation of new windows and a new slate-tile roof, environmental remediation, and weatherization of the building. Construction on the site began in April 2015 and is expected to be completed by January 2016.