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CHELSEA NOW 12-15-10

CHELSEA NOW 12-15-10

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Published by: COMMUNITYMEDIA on Dec 15, 2010
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DECEMBER 15 - 28, 2010
Winners All: The Chelsea Greyhounds, at the AAU Cross Country National Championship.
More than 50 com-munity members gath-ered at Chelsea’s GeneralTheological Seminary(G.T.S.) on the evening of December 7 to learn moreabout the sale of several of the Seminary’s real estateholdings to the BrodskyOrganization, a luxuryhousing development group. While the G.T.S. bemoanedthe $41 million in debt thatnecessitated the sale andassured the community thatthe impact on the neigh-borhood would be minimal,some attendees were con-cerned about similar prom-ises made in the past.“The bottom line is theSeminary is broke, brokenand bankrupt,” said G.T.S.Interim President Rev. LangLowrey — who has beenwith the Seminary only fourmonths. “We turned first to[other seminaries], but noone was willing to write a$41 million check. And our$1 million in philanthropicgiving was not enough.”Lowrey said the G.T.S.signed contracts with theBrodsky Organization onNovember 29, subject toNew York City approvalsand that of the LandmarksCommission, New YorkState Attorney General, theEpiscopal Diocese of LongIsland and the bank thatholds the Seminary’s loans.The Seminary said theywould retain a “buy-backoption” on all of the sales,hoping to one day be able toafford to buy back the prop-erty for G.T.S. use.
General Theological Seminary Holds Open House to Discuss Sale 
Before the weather turned frigid,if you happened by W. 27th/28thStreets and 9th/10th Avenues on anygiven Monday, Wednesday and Fridayaround 3:45pm and didn’t blink, youmight have caught a glimpse of theGreyhounds.No, not those sleek dogs or the busline, but the Chelsea Greyhounds — atrack team of 8-to-14-year olds whowere flying by as fast as their feet anddetermination would carry them alongthese two streets and avenues. It mighthave been considered a little chillyout there, but for Greyhounds coachRon Guialdo, “the different terrain of the street and the cold weather wereperfect, and one go-round is about 663meters,” he calculated.In its one-and-a-half-year existence,the Chelsea Greyhounds has become aformidable competitive team, winninga combined total of over 100 medals,thanks to the hard work and dedicationof Guialdo and his fleet-footed charges.At every local meet they participated inlast summer, the Greyhounds took tophonors — mostly first, second and thirdplace. At their first-ever nationals (theaward-winning: Chelsea Greyhounds,at the AAU Cross Country NationalChampionship in Kissimmee, Florida,on December 4), half the team quali-fied, and all five (one girl was sick andcouldn’t go) medaled.“It was a challenge, but really funand exciting, and we worked hard forit,” said Grant Nickson, who ran the3,000-meter event and finished 37 out
Running with the Greyhounds:Chelsea’s Driven Track Team
Continued on page 5 
Continued on page 3 
Ch l
e sea
25 West 23rd StreetNew Flagship Coffee Shop Opens!
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Tor Hamer weighs in on“The Fighter” — p. 19
December 15 - 28, 2010
 The 300 West Block AssociationComes A-Caroling…
Celebrate the season, with seasonal songs — as you walk (and sing) with the 300West Block Association. Their annual caroling event is done with the help of a brasstrio providing accompaniment for Block Association members, friends and neighborsas they stroll along and sing holiday carols. Thurs., Dec. 16. At 6:30pm, meet inthe lobby of 260 W. 22nd Street.
Let There be (lots of) Light!
December 9, early evening: Tequila Minsky took these shots of 425 W. 25th St. (btw. 9th and 10th Aves.) all aglow.
December 15 - 28, 2010
“We treasure our mission of preparing leaders for theworld, and we want to save Chelsea Square. But we need abalanced budget,” said Lowrey. “We had to turn to a trustedpartner…and that person was Dan Brodsky.”Lowrey was joined by a panel consisting of Bishop PeterLee, interim dean; Maureen Burnley, executive vice-presidentfor operations and development; and interim C.F.O. SandraJohnson.Representatives of elected officials attended the meeting,including those from the offices of State Senator ThomasDuane, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and CityCouncil Speaker Christine Quinn. In a statement to ChelseaNow, Duane expressed his disappointment at the sale.“It is regrettable that the General Theological Seminary isin such dire financial straits that it is now selling many of itsproperties in the heart of the Chelsea Historic District,” saidDuane. “One would have hoped that after the Seminary soldwhat is now the Chelsea Enclave and converted its DesmondTutu Center to a tourist hotel, it would have the resources toboth fulfill its mission and retain its remaining historic build-ings. I am further dismayed that Seminary leadership neitherconsulted with the community before announcing the prop-erties’ sale as a fait accompli, nor did sufficient outreach forits December 7 public meeting regarding the sale.”“However, the Seminary is an important Chelsea institu-tion,” he added. “I and many others who care deeply aboutour community will do all we can to help the Seminary finda path toward financial solvency so it may survive in ourhistoric neighborhood for many years to come.”Gottfried was decidedly more sanguine, saying, “Thecommunity seems pretty comfortable with what G.T.S. feelsthey need to do. I think it’s important that what they’re doingwill preserve the architectural integrity of the property, andif this will help solidify G.T.S. financially without in any wayundermining the historic character of the area, that’s what’smost important.”In a 15-minute presentation, Lowrey outlined “The Planto Choose Life” (named after Deuteronomy 30:19) — athree-step plan to eliminate debt, rebuild their endowment,and balance their budget, all with the goal of strengtheningtheir core mission, “to educate and form leaders for thechurch in a changing world.”The G.T.S. hopes to eliminate $41 million in debt andrestore the school’s endowment through the $60 million saleof buildings referred to as 2, 3 and 4 Chelsea Square to theBrodsky Organization to convert into luxury condominiums.They also plan to sell the Chelsea Enclave, fee simple (thegrounds) — a large apartment building at 422 West 20thStreet and the West Building, the oldest historic building onthe Seminary’s campus. The Seminary said the sale would pre-serve the G.T.S.’s classic E-shaped quadrangle known as the“Close,” as well as the historic buildings fronting West 21stStreet. Lowrey also noted that the Brodsky Organization’splanned renovations of the West Building would likely savethe decrepit, aging structure from collapse.The plan calls for students (80 of whom are currentlyhoused in other buildings) to be moved into other buildingsto be renovated, and administrative and faculty offices to bemoved from the West Building to the Seabury Building. Thefunds will also allow the G.T.S. to build a new library.In his presentation, Lowrey outlined the timeline forbuilding. In the winter and spring of 2011, Dehon andPintard Hall will undergo renovations, while building on thelibrary will begin. In the summer of 2011, Lorillard, White,and Edson Hall will be renovated, the library and officeswill be relocated and a temporary entrance may be built inthe basement of one of the buildings. Renovations will becompleted in April 2011, and by November 2011, the WestBuilding will be vacated.The G.T.S. hopes the move will eliminate debt with asingle-stop solution, enhance campus security, reduce thedeferred maintenance fees to $15 million (they are currently$100 million), reduce facility costs and upgrade IT. “Half our problems are solved when we sell this property,” saidLowrey.The second half of the plan calls for the sale of a stakein the Desmond Tutu Center to the Episcopal Church, with$20 million to go to the endowment. Restructuring will alsoallow the Seminary to reach a balanced budget by 2013, saidLowrey.Lowrey concluded his presentation with a list of prosand cons, citing among pros the balanced budget, increasedendowment, elimination of debt and ensuring of operatingcosts. Cons included no room for growth, disruptions overthe next 18 months, selling real estate in a very low marketat a discounted package rate and the risks inherent in a planwith many moving parts.But Lowrey seemed pleased at the opportunity to getG.T.S. on more firm footing, saying, “Churches don’t alwaysrun great businesses, but we do other things very well.”Some attendees expressed their concerns about how theG.T.S. has run the Bishop Desmond Tutu Center. Chelsearesident Sandy Rosin questioned whether the Center was foreducation, or was primarily a hotel, noting, “You have notbeen too forthcoming in the past, so when I hear you say youare transparent now, I find it hard to believe.”Lowrey insisted that the G.T.S. marketed the Centerto conferences or friends and family of the EpiscopalChurch. (Burnley recounted that the Center had hosted 30conferences this year to groups, including the Michael J.Fox Foundation, Columbia Business School, the American
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Future Mapped out at G.T.S. Meeting
Continued from page 1Continued on page 12 
Photo by Winnie McCroy
Foreground: G.T.S. Interim President Rev. Lang Lowrey. Background, l to r: Bishop Peter Lee, interim dean;Maureen Burnley, executive vice-president for operations and development; and interim C.F.O. Sandra Johnson.
“We can’t sacrifice our mission justto become a successful financial institution,” said Lowrey. “Some people thought we borrowed thatmoney from God…but in reality, weborrowed it from a bank.”

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