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With the Installation of a New Elevator and Upgrades to the Center’s Lobby and Corridors, the Project Will Make the Clemente Fully ADA Compliant

The groundbreaking is celebrated at The Clemente’s Three Kings Day event. Photo courtesy DDC.


(New York, NY – January 8, 2024) The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) and the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) have announced the launch of a nearly $13 million renovation project at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The renovation project will make the building fully ADA compliant and modernize the lobby and corridors for The Clemente’s 70,000 annual visitors. The project is being managed by DDC and was funded by DCLA with support from the Mayor’s Office, Manhattan Borough President, and City Council.

Photos from the groundbreaking ceremony – which took place during The Clemente’s annual Three Kings Day Celebration on Saturday, January 6 – are available for download here.

An artist’s rendering of the project that will make The Clemente fully ADA compliant and will add a new elevator tower and cab. Image courtesy DDC.


"The Clemente is a hub for community and cultural activity, a space whose programming brings artists and audiences together to create something that is deeply rooted in the Latinx history and artistic legacy of this neighborhood," said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. "'We're so proud of the city's nearly $13 million investment in this much-needed accessibility project, which will expand access to the facility and its remarkable programming for all New Yorkers."


“DDC builds cool stuff all over the City including many projects with DCLA which enhance the cultural landscape of New York City,” said DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley. “This project will make the building fully ADA compliant and renovate the building’s main lobby and corridors, giving The Clemente team a beautiful new space to thrive and grow in. The DDC team is delighted to launch this project, which will benefit all Lower East Side residents who visit The Clemente.”


“In addition to the enhancements, we will launch a fund to continue to provide meaningful infrastructure upgrades, and to keep cultural workers’ ability to develop new works live in Lower Manhattan with upgraded production values, underscoring our dedication to multi-generational audiences and families of Latinx and diverse cultural heritages,” said Libertad Guerra, Executive Director of the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center. “This aligns perfectly with our mission to be a dynamic hub for cultural engagement, equity and affordability.

The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center (The Clemente), located in a 1897, 100,000 square-foot, city-owned building at 107 Suffolk Street, is a Puerto Rican/Latino cultural center established in 1993. The six-story building was formerly known as P.S. 160.

The construction project will modernize The Clemente’s historic home, which hosts a wide range of performing arts, visual arts, and community programming and includes theaters, exhibition galleries, studios and offices. The project will install a new elevator tower and cab that will connect all floors and the building’s roof. Upgrades will be made to create an open floor plan for the main lobby and corridors on each floor. The new entrance and lobby will make the space more suitable for occupation and will better showcase exhibitions. The project will also build wheelchair accessible restrooms and elevator lobby, making the building fully ADA complaint. Construction is projected to be completed by summer 2025.

For three decades, The Clemente has been an arts haven, fostering creativity and cultural expression. It has hosted hundreds of art and community events annually, including signature festivals like the International Puppet Fringe Festival, the Borimix Festival, and River to River festival events. Most recently, The Clemente hosted the People’s Bus project in partnership with the Civic Engagement Commission (created through DCLA’s Public Artists in Residence program), and has also been a nurturing ground for artists like Rita Indiana, Esperanza Spalding, and Guadalupe Maravilla. With the completion of this project, The Clemente will expand considerably, welcoming not only the 70,000 visitors and participants already served annually, but including those with physical disabilities, as well as more technically complex productions.

Rendering courtesy DDC.

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About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor Adams’ long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $28 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit