Cuomo Creates New York City Women's Center With Buffett Funding

  • Facility will be at the site of former Bayview prison
  • NoVo Foundation receives development award from state

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration picked the NoVo Foundation, a nonprofit organization funded by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, to redevelop a former prison in New York City into a building for groups that advocate women’s equality.

The NoVo Foundation, led by Buffett’s youngest son, Peter, and daughter-in-law Jennifer, won the bid to redevelop the Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood in partnership with the Goren Group, a real estate firm owned and operated by women. Cuomo, a Democrat, said the building will be at the center of the worldwide women’s-equality movement.

"We take down an institution of failure and defeat and we rise from those ashes," Cuomo said Monday at the Chelsea Piers sports complex, across the street from the former prison.

The NoVo Foundation will lease the building, paying an initial base rent of $3.5 million per year, according to a foundation statement. It will be renamed the Women’s Building.

"The metamorphosis will create a place where organizations advocating for the rights of girls and women can pool resources, share ideas and strengthen connections with one another," Jennifer Buffet said.

Sandy Evacuation

The 153 women incarcerated at Bayview, which opened in 1974, were evacuated days before it was flooded during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. They never returned, and the state sought to redevelop the property, which has views of the Hudson River. 

The building was designed in 1931 as a YMCA for merchant sailors and is characterized by its distinctive masonry work, terra cotta detailing, and nautical references, according to NoVo. Goren Group will work closely with the state Historic Preservation Office to preserve and restore historical elements of the building, the group said.

Cuomo, 56, has made several decisions this year that should bolster his standing among liberal Democrats. He signed a so-called women’s bill of rights that mandates equal pay and workplace protections for pregnancy, and stiffened laws against human trafficking. He’s also passed measures that force colleges to address campus sexual assaults, backed a $15 minimum wage statewide and last week issued an executive order to extend discrimination protections to transgender people.

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