NEW YORK—The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is seeking proposals from real estate developers to demolish two schools on the Upper West Side to make way for residential towers.
The schools would then be reincorporated into the residential projects, with the developers footing the bill.
The two schools in question, P.S. 199 and P.S. 191, are nine blocks apart and are both in the midst of renovations worth more than $12 million. Notably, P.S. 199 is one of the most coveted public schools in the city and was designed by Edward Durell Stone, the architect who also worked on the Museum of Modern Art and the Radio City Music Hall.
The city has already received 24 proposals from developers, West Side Rag learned from a parent who attended a PTA meeting regarding the possible development.
“It’s just surprising that we weren’t made aware of it when the RFP went out,” Mindy, a parent at P.S. 199 told the publication. According to Mindy, the PTA learned about the proposal on Feb. 9.
“It’s one thing to not involve us first thing,” she said. “The proposals already came back. They’ve been out there at least six months.”
Parents filed several complaints with the office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, who then forwarded a summary of the concerns to DOE Chancellor Dennis Walcott. Among the concerns is where the students from these schools will go during the demolition and construction and how long it will take before the children can return to their schools.
There are 835 students enrolled in P.S. 199 and 557 in P.S. 191, according to the DOE.
But the public may have little power in this regard. Since the sites are owned by the DOE, a Uniform Land Use Review Process would not be necessary for the projects to proceed, a listed benefit for the developers on the Request for Expressions of Interest issued by the New York City Educational Construction Fund (ECF).
“While in the normal course of development on city-owned land there would be ample opportunity to evaluate the potential impacts on both education and the surrounding neighborhood, no such uniform process exists in this case,” wrote Stringer. “I am deeply concerned that the DOE has left administrators and families unnecessarily in the dark about the potential impacts.”
Stringer is also concerned with bringing a new population to an area that already lacks school seats.
The DOE has issued a statement pointing out that the ECF has already completed four new school projects around the city, adding close to 3,200 new school seats and totaling $215 million in construction costs at no expense to taxpayers. According to the statement, a proposal would have to be worthy to move past the planning stage.
The DOE nevertheless anticipates that the newest proposal will move forward provided the success of its previous projects.