Frankford Y set to be restored

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. ••

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