MIDTOWN — Backers of the grassroots effort to build an AIDS memorial in the West Village need only $500,000 to reach their $4 million fundraising target.
Presenting new renderings of the memorial at a private event in Midtown Wednesday night, the New York City AIDS Memorial coalition said the park has moved closer to becoming a reality after the group raised nearly $1 million over the past two months alone.
Memorial co-founder Christopher Tepper, who first brought the idea for the park to Community Board 2 in September 2011 with co-founder Paul Kelterborn, said he was "very confident" the group could raise the remaining funds to build the space.
"We've surpassed all reasonable expectations of what we could raise," he said.
The memorial, in honor of the more than 100,000 New Yorkers who have died of AIDS, will take up 1,600 square feet on the triangular plot of land at the intersection of Greenwich Avenue and West 12th Street. The location was selected because of its proximity to the former St. Vincent's Hospital, which had the city's first and largest ward for people with AIDS.
The updated design by Brooklyn-based firm Studio a+1 features an 18-foot high canopy and granite water fountain. Trellises planted with ivy and honeysuckle have been removed from the renderings, following community concerns about their maintenance and appearance.
The ground under the triangular structure will be covered in granite paving stones arranged in concentric rings and inscribed with poetry, quotes and facts about the Village's response to the AIDS epidemic. A committee led by Tony Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner, creator of "Angels in America," will select the words.
The remainder of the plot of land known as St. Vincent's Triangle will become a park. Both will be built by Rudin Management and real estate magnate Eyal Ofer, who are developing luxury condo units in the former hospital building. Construction on both the memorial and park are slated to begin in 2014, Tepper said.
Funds for the memorial include $250,000 from the Arcus Foundation, $105,000 from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and a $1 million commitment from the office of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. The group expects to receive an additional $1.5 million from city, state and federal sources.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn encouraged donations to the memorial fund in honor of the Village's historic role during the AIDS crisis.
"I urge those who can to provide additional support, and to remember that this memorial will connect existing generations of New Yorkers with their history and help inspire young people to become active in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS," she said in a statement.