GRAMERCY PARK — The Stein Senior Center is finally moving out of its temporary basement space and into a permanent location.
The center had been running out of the basement at East End Temple, located at 245 E. 17th St., for almost a year. Its former landlord, the International Center for the Disabled at East 24th Street and First Avenue, had pushed the seniors out of their original space, on East 24th Street and First Avenue, in order to expand their own services.
“We thought we were going to be in a temporary space for just three months, but it’s been a year,” said Jane Barry, executive director of the senior center.
At the temporary space, seniors were served lunch in the basement and senior programs were held on the fourth floor, where four classrooms were shared between the seniors and the students of the Temple’s Hebrew class.
Stein officially moved out of the East End Temple last Thursday, and into its new space on the second floor of the Uniformed Firefighters Association building, located at 204 E. 23rd St. The Center opened to seniors for the first time on Monday.
The 5,000-square-foot space comes complete with a new cafeteria, which holds up to 150 people, a kitchen, a computer lab, an activity room, a lecture room and staff offices. The center is also hoping to raise funds toward an outdoor balcony space for the seniors.
“I’ve been working with seniors for 25 years and seniors have always been in these dingy basements,” Barry said. “Now they have this beautiful, new, modern place. That’s what the seniors deserve.”
The new space was originally gutted, and Stein Senior Center got funds from the city and state to pay for the renovation, Barry explained. The complete renovation, including an upgrade to the center’s website, cost them a little more than $1 million, Barry said.
At Stein’s original space, nearly 250 seniors passed through the center each day, either for lunch or for activities, Barry said.
“It was hard to tell how many seniors we were getting at the East End Temple because of the abbreviated hours and the small space, but we’re expecting an increase,” Barry said.
Beginning Monday, Stein Senior Center will resume its regular weekday hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Full programing will also return, including popular activities like belly dancing, opera appreciation, yoga and massage.
The center will also offer services such as nutrition, crime victim services, and tax preparation. Stein is also hoping to offer a food pantry and a used-clothing boutique.
“[The seniors] were starting to think that the move would never happen, so they’re very excited," Barry said.