The city might turn a shuttered stereo shop, a closed car wash, and a vacant lot into a new elementary school — with or without the consent of the owners of the Fourth Avenue properties.
The School Construction Authority is considering seizing the parcels near the corner of 88th Street through eminent domain in order to construct PS 264, a planned 475-seat kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school, which it says could help alleviate overcrowding in the borough’s most-crowded district.
But property owners — who are currently in the process of appraising the value of their land — wish the city would reconsider.
“It seems like a done deal to me,” said Jimmy Anagnostakos, a part-owner of the vacant car wash. “We understand that they can take our property. We just wish they would lease it from us instead.”
Peter Pantelidis, owner of the empty lot that the city is considering building upon, told Community Board 10 last month that he wasn’t willing to put his land on the market.
“It’s not for sale. … I’m really upset by this,” Pantelidis said. “I’m going to fight this.”
Pantelidis did not respond to repeated interview requests.
The School Construction Authority is still hoping to buy the land — but it is prepared to use of eminent domain if the negotiations aren’t fruitful, Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said.
The property owners are “weighing the options — including litigation,” said Charles Capetanakis, an attorney who is representing some of the land owners.
Whether it’s through purchase or condemnation, the city is hoping to come to an agreement soon.
In order to take advantage of money already allotted to build a school in the district, the Department of Education must finalize plans and prove that it is committed to funding the construction of the school before July, when the current five-year major construction plan ends, Feinberg said.
This isn’t the city’s first attempt to build a new school in Bay Ridge — and it isn’t the first time that affected property owners have voiced their discontent.
Before pinpointing the land on Fourth Avenue, the city targeted a stretch of Fifth Avenue, where business including the glass shop Windows We Are adamantly opposed the city’s plans.
But in August, the city honed in on the land on Fourth Avenue, just four blocks away.
And in a twist that could only take place in Bay Ridge, if the city had chosen a different location for its new school, the neighborhood might have gotten the only thing it needs as much as a new school — a new location for the beloved supermarket Key Food.
“It’s too bad,” said Anagnostakos, who claimed that before the city expressed interest in his land, he was considering leasing it to Key Food, which closed its Third Avenue location this spring.
“A school would be good for the community, but there aren’t enough grocery stores here either,” he said.
©2008 Community News Group
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