By Tara Kyle
HELL'S KITCHEN — Chelsea institution the Gay Men's Health Crisis officially left the neighborhood behind after more than a decade and celebrated its move to Hell's Kitchen Friday morning.
The group is setting up shop at the former headquarters of WNET New York Public Media at 446 W. 33rd St., near Tenth Avenue, after leaving its old location on 24th Street.
The move into the larger, 165,000 square foot space, will allow the three-decade old HIV/AIDS service and advocacy organization to expand programs including nutrition counseling and daily hot lunches.
"We're now in a position to provide more people with more efficient and effective services," Chief Executive Officer Marjorie Hill said before the ribbon-cutting.
GMHC will also be saving money on rent with the new space, the result of a search that began two-and-a-half years ago.
WNET donated over $4 million in furniture and electronics left behind when it moved in the fall.
One GMHC client turned volunteer and staffer, Angelo Carvana, 46, said he appreciated increased "elbow room" in all of the work spaces, as well as the new cafeteria.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler recalled decades of collaboration with the non-profit, on issues including including lowering the price of AZT (the first approved treatment for HIV) in the late 1980s.
"I want to say I look forward to a long, productive working relationship, but I hope it's not necessary," Nadler said.
State Sen. Tom Duane recalled Princess Diana's role as an advocate in the fight against AIDS.
"Frankly, I would have thought the stigma would be gone by now, but sadly, far from it," said Duane, who is openly gay and HIV positive. "GMHC has been a force in the fight against stigma, and it goes on."