NYC’s GMHC signs lease, finalizes move
After months of controversy, New York City’s premiere AIDS service organization last week signed a lease on a new home. Gay Men’s Health Crisis says it had little choice but to move. Its current lease on 12 floors in Chelsea is up at the end of the year, and the current landlord planned to hike the rent by more than a third.
But the new location in the building that houses The New York Daily News and the Associated Press has generated fierce resistance from some AIDS activists, not least among them GMHC’s founder Larry Kramer.
One complaint is that the new location can’t be fitted out with a full industrial kitchen, which some fear will compromise GMHC’s popular — and vital — hot meals program. But GMHC Director Marjorie Hill says food consultants are being hired to design a kitchen with convection ovens that will work just as well.
Hill: “The clients will see no difference because technology allows food to be prepared in a slightly different way.”
Dr. Hill says GMHC got off on the wrong foot with activists in part because of the need for secrecy when conducting sensitive business negotiations like finding suitable space and working out a lease.
Hill: “Some of the questions were not answered when they were first addressed. And I think that that fueled the fire, if you will.”
Other concerns expressed by activists include the greater distance from the subway to the new location. Hill says van service is being considered. And she says the separate entrance being built for GMHC is a plus, not the minus some have complained of. She said it will permit GMHC branding and a store-front feel at office-space prices. The agency said the new lease will save about 24-million dollars over its 8-and-a-half year term.