City Boots Professional Design Center from Fort Totten

It’s reported that there were instances in which the Professional Design Center provided pro bono services for Parks & Recreation. This must be DPR’s way of saying thanks.

City boots design center from Fort Tottenpdc_home
By John Tozzi

The Professional Design Center, a nonprofit group of architects and engineers based for more than 10 years at Fort Totten, will lose its home there at the end of June because the Parks Department plans to use the building as the agency’s Fort Totten headquarters.

“They’re basically evicting us without any cause,” said Chris Petallides, a board member and former chair of the design center.

Once the commander of the Civil War-era fort lived in the building at 422 Weaver Ave. The property has long been in the hands of the Fire Department, which has let the design center use it since 1996 in exchange for the group maintaining the building. But as the Parks Department takes over more space at the new Fort Totten Park, the center is in danger of becoming homeless. The design group is not the only non-profit engaged in a real estate tangle at Fort Totten. The Center for the Women of New York, a nonprofit advocacy and resource group, was evicted in 2003 from a building it had renovated. The center has waged a court battle against the Parks Department for a new space ever since. A Parks Department spokeswoman said the agency took over Building 422 in June 2006 but honored a permit the design center had with the Fire Department through the end of last year. In November Parks gave the group until the end of March to move.

“Although Parks intends to use the building as Fort Totten’s Parks headquarters, we informed DC that we would do our best to accommodate their meeting schedule and possibly a storage space through June, after which they break for the summer,” Parks spokeswoman Abby Lootens said in an email. The design group uses the building for public lectures and events, such as an annual math contest for local students. Petallides said he wants to build the center, which was founded in 1996, into a Fort Totten institution, like the Bayside Historical Society, which occupies the former Officer’s Club.

“We plan to do a lot more provided we have a more permanent status there like the historical society does,” he said. Petallides said the Fire Department may try to furnish the group with another property.

Elected officials, including state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), have written to the city asking that the design center be allowed to keep its home.

The 77th Regional Readiness Command, an Army Reserve unit, is also being relocated from Fort Totten by the Army. The troops are scheduled to go to Fort Dix, N.J.Some, including Padavan, have asked the Army to stop the relocation, citing the reserve unit’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks as an example of the crucial support the troops provide New York City.

Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 174.
©Times Ledger 2007


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