Some new life has been breathed into the long-vacant New Frankford Community Y building at Leiper and Arrott streets.
The old mid-19th century mansion part of the property will be restored for law and real estate offices, board members said Sunday morning. The newer part of the Y, built in the 1970s, will be renovated and used pretty much as a Y again, they said inside the scarred, trashed and vandalized building.
For more than four years, money had been the barrier to doing anything with the Y, which closed in 2009. There had been no cash to keep it open and, burdened by a $175,000 mortgage and numerous other debts, there had been no dollars to reopen it.
Much of that financial onus recently was removed, said attorney Frank Bennett, when Beneficial Bank and its holding company agreed to forgive the mortgage and about $225,000 in delinquent payments, interest and penalties. Bennett, the board’s president, will restore the mansion, the Y’s original building, at his own expense and use it for offices. He’ll pay $1 annually in rent.
Thousands of dollars in other debts are no longer collectable, Bennett said.
Board members Kristy Schneider, Pete Specos, Joe Krause and Jose Figueroa said they hope to soon open up the newer building’s exercise room and basketball court, and are looking for donations to make it happen.
“The community needs the Y,” Specos said.
Years of neglect and vandalism will add to the expenses of reopening. Since the Y closed in June 2009, vandals have spray-painted inside and outside, and metal scrappers have stolen copper pipes from inside the building and from its roof-mounted air-conditioning system. Recently, thieves were caught removing the building’s old radiators.
Bennett said the board will arrange to have security to keep the vandals at bay. ••