The Days Are Numbered for 92YTribeca

Live Band Karaoke and singers on stage last month in 92Y Tribeca’s 174-person-capacity performance space and bar. Musicians hail it as a great club-like venue without the grunge and distractions. Photos by Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Apr. 01, 2013

“An open door to extraordinary worlds.”

That’s the slogan of the 92nd Street Y, and a fitting one. But printed on the window of 92YTribeca, the institution’s Down­town outpost, it is ironic as well.

That door, at 200 Hudson Street, will soon close for good.

92YTribeca, a vibrant center of ec­lec­tic cultural activity—films, talks, classes, art, music and mingling—will end its five-year run this summer, the 92nd Street Y announced last month.

“Over the last five years, we have learned that a second, physical location is not critical to our mission,” 92Y’s executive director, Sol Adler, wrote in a letter to the staff.

Adler said the Y should invest in its flagship venue on the Upper East Side and in partnerships and online programming that reach communities “beyond the walls of any building.”

As an example, Adler cited live In­ternet broadcasts such as the Y’s parti­cipation with Social Good Summit, an in­ternational webcast meant to bring to­gether experts to talk about technological  solutions to world problems.

“As you can imagine, this has been a difficult decision,” wrote Adler, who declined to be interviewed.

At least one offering, a Jewish afterschool program called Connect, will be relocated Downtown, according 92Y spokes­woman Beverly Greenfield. Others may move uptown.

“Who knows? We’re really not sure what we’re doing with each program yet,” Greenfield said. “We’re sitting down and looking at everything.”

For the moment, she added, “There’s still lots of awesome programming that’s going to happen there before it goes.”

The news left 92YTribeca’s highly-regarded staff stunned, and uncertain over their future with the institution. It also leaves a hole in the cultural lives of those who attended the diverse programming—from flower-arranging classes to a Beau Bridges film series to a kids concert by Rolie Polie Guacamole.

Musicians, especially, are feeling the loss of an important performance space.
“When they close down venues, es­pecially ones that support live jazz, that has an effect,” said saxophonist Tim Green, who said he got important early exposure at the Tribeca Y.

“Some places you might be competing with glasses, pool and ping-pong tables. In 92Y it’s all about the music.”

Steven Feifke, 21, premiered his en­semble Big Band at 92YTribeca. He called the place “incredible.”

“A lot of venues only want to book someone with a big name. But it wasn’t about how big you were,” Feifke said. “If you had a project that was worthy of being seen, they helped you share it with the public. It was my favorite place to play.”

The 18,000-square- foot center officially opened in October 2008 and kept its promise to be  a place with something for almost everyone.

“We’re a whirlwind,” then-acting executive di­rector Naomi Lapin said on that opening night. “But what is great is that pretty much no matter what you’re interested in, I’m confident we’ve got something you want to come and do.”

The Y’s evening fare of films, comedy and music, as well as its bar, was  aimed at a mainly singles crowd in their   20s and 30s. (The New York Times re­ported on the wedding of a couple who met at a Y Purim party in 2008 and made it their Purim destination for the next two years. They tied the knot in 2011.)

For local parents of young children, the draw has been “BYOK” (Bring Your Own Kid). Jill Swerdloff said her two children “loved” going to see regulars Princess Katie and Racer Steve.

“We were fortunate to have a cultural institution like that in Tribeca,” Swerd­loff said. “Whenever something like that closes, it’s a shame.”