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Fitermans donate largest facility in CUNY history.

The largest gift of a physical facility to a community college in the nation, the $30 million, 15-story building at 30 West Broadway, has been made by Miles and Shirley Fiterman to The City University of New York for Borough of Manhattan Community College. It is the largest gift in the history of CUNY.

"We are thrilled to contribute our building to where it really counts and where it will do so much good for deserving, hard-working students," Mr. and Mrs. Fiterman said.

The building, to be known as Miles and Shirley Fiterman Hall, will provide classroom space to a rapidly expanding student body at BMCC, the second largest of CUNY's 19 colleges and the largest of its seven community colleges. With an enrollment close to 17,000 this fall, the College has outgrown the 10-year-old modern campus at 199 Chambers Street, which was built for 10,000 students.

The gift of the building concluded an intense search for more space for the college that started last spring. BMCC had sought to rent space at 30 West Broadway, which is a few blocks from 199 Chambers Street. During discussions with BMCC Dean of Administration and Planning Ronald Spalter, and after meeting with CUNY Chancellor W. Ann Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. Fiterman offered to donate the building to the University for the College.

The building contains 370,000 square feet and perfectly meets the needs of the College. Three thousand students are already attending 100 classes in the building this semester.

"In giving the City University this extraordinary gift, the Fitermans have demonstrated their rare compassion for humanity and their extraordinary dedication to those seeking to build a better future," Chancellor Reynolds said.

Miles Fiterman is a Minnesota businessman who pioneered the field of "Do-it-Yourself Housing." During the 1960s, when the cost of single-family houses was rising rapidly, Mr. Fiterman rounded his own company, Miles Homes, Inc., designed to enable families who otherwise could not afford homes to build housing for themselves. It became the largest supplier of this type of housing, sending products from four distribution plants into 41 states. The company provides all materials used to construct the homes, as well as engineering plants, on-site help, and financial services. The company, which he sold in 1972, continues to operate and to provide this unique service.

The building, in addition to offering classroom space for academic programs that are much in demand, is expected to serve as a conference and meeting place for lower Manhattan business and civic committees and organizations.

The facility will allow BMCC to expand its current degree and non-credit programs, enhance student support services, and continue to fulfill the college's mission to extend higher education opportunities to a diverse urban population.

This latest gift reflects a continuing trend in the commercial real estate market in which the owners of some buildings, especially those 30 years old and older, may be better off donating them then struggling to make a profit. In June, General Electric donated the 50-story Art Deco building at 570 Lexington Ave. to Columbia University.

"I won't be surprised if more owners decide to do this," said Bruce Surry, managing director of the Edward S. Gordon Company.

Factors involved in making this decision include an empty or near vacant property, and whether or not the building is in need of modernization. Owners who lack the resources to make such improvements, or who are unwilling to lose money in the short haul, also factor into the decision.

In the case of 30 West Broadway, the owners faced a grim situation with the impending departure of their sole tenant, Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, the need for millions in renovations, stiff rental competition and the prospect of losing as much as $40 million over the next few years if things didn't improve.
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Title Annotation:Miles and Shirley Fiterman donate commercial building to City University of New York for Borough of Manhattan Community College, located at 30 West Broadway, New York, New York
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 13, 1993
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