Lower East Side Mainstay ABC No Rio to Relocate After Receiving Demolition Orders


ABC No Rio.


ABC No Rio, the East Village cultural center that has played host over the past three decades to artists, punks, and activists (and occasionally all three at the same time), has finally received its marching orders from the city. As reported by the New York Times yesterday, the derelict tenement, which currently has its headquarters at 156 Rivington Street, is set for demolition possibly as soon as this fall.

In 1979, a group of artists under the name Collaborative Projects broke into an empty city-owned building on Delancey Street to install an exhibition called The Real Estate Show, which was soon shut down by the police. Following a negotiation with the city, a few months later the group (under the leadership of Becky Howland, Bobby G., Alan Moore, and others) settled on Rivington Street and formed ABC No Rio, a space they would fight tooth and nail to hold onto ever since. In 2006, the city formally sold the building to No Rio for $1.

Despite its resilient spirit, the center has finally relented to the neighborhood’s rapid gentrification. According to the New York Times article, the demolition and reconstruction of the No Rio building has been long in the works, but was delayed due to “red tape and rising costs.” A recent $30 million purchase of a neighboring factory tipped the scales, with fears that No Rio’s structure would be “unlikely to survive the demolition next door.” The developers plan to replace the buildings with million-dollar condos.

In the past few years No Rio has raised $1.6 million in private donations and a further $6.45 million in grants through City Council members. With such strong backing, the center is set to construct a new, environmentally friendly structure designed by architect Paul Castrucci, who was quoted as saying it will be “one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the city.”

No Rio’s final art show in its current space will be held on June 10. Titled “InFinite Futures,” the exhibition will offer several artists’ visions of what the No Rio site might look like in 5, 50, and 500 years.

CORRECTION 05/18/2016, 12:35 p.m.: An earlier version of this article misstated who oversaw the foundation of ABC No Rio. Becky Howland, Bobby G., and Alan Moore established ABC No Rio in 1980, when it was first started, not Jack Waters and Peter Cramer. The post has been updated to reflect this.

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