Clinton Hillers rally against proposed seven-story charter school • Brooklyn Paper

Clinton Hillers rally against proposed seven-story charter school

Unity Prepatory School's planned 10-story building.
Rainer Schrom

A new seven-story high school in Clinton Hill would help turn a tranquil neighborhood into a overcrowded mess by emboldening other builders to build big, argued a neighborhood leader at a hearing on Tuesday.

“It would dramatically and unalterably change the nature and characteristics of our Clinton Hill community,” said David Moore, who is the president of the 15 Quincy Street Tenants Association. “It encourage dangerous precedent for mega buildings throughout our quiet Brooklyn neighborhood.”

Leaders for Unity Preparatory Charter School are applying for zoning exemptions to build the 100-foot high schoolhouse on Lexington Avenue, between Classon and Grand avenue on land owned by housing advocacy group Impacct Brooklyn.

The Community Board 2 land use committee approved the plan at a February meeting after school officials told the panel it had consulted with locals, but irate neighbors said they knew nothing about it. Minutes of a November tenants association meeting show that the possibility of a school did come up, but no one told residents that the plan was moving forward after that.

Neighbors then appealed to the panel to delay the full board vote so they could make their case before it voted on a recommendation to send onto the Board of Standards and Appeals, and they got their chance at Tuesday’s hearing.

Residents railed against the project, arguing teachers and parents driving their teens to the new schoolhouse will create congestion, especially because it is located on a dead-end street.

And the building containing below-market-rate apartments on Quincy Street currently looks out onto a parking lot where the school would be built, blocking light and air to some apartments that only have rear facing windows.

“You’re going to lock me in,” said tenant Eileen Rivera, who threatened to move away if the proposal is approved. “I’m basically just going to be looking at a brick wall.”

But school officials said that neighbors have nothing to worry about since the majority of student body lives in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, and will walk or take public transportation to school. One teen reassured the room that educators wouldn’t be flooding the streets with cars, anyway, because they’d much rather hop on their bikes.

“Most of the teachers at my school are hippies, they ride their bikes everywhere,” said Tashara Watt.

Currently, kids must travel to the school’s temporary location in Brownsville and leaders want to move the operation closer to teens’ homes, but can’t find any sites they can afford in the booming nabes as cheap as the Impacct lot, according to Unity’s leader.

“The rising prices makes it very hard for us to afford to have a private site in the area, so this site offers just that,” said Josh Beauregard, who is the school’s co-founder. “Without this option, we would not be able to afford to exist in the district.”

Locals maintained that they aren’t opposed the project because they hate education and offered to help find another affordable lot. They instead said they are upset because the same developer behind 15 Quincy is also building the charter school — Manatus Development — and accused it of caring more about cashing in than the people who live there.

“We want them here in our neighborhood but it’s in the wrong place, that block is too small, it’s overbuilt, and the developer is double dipping,” said Nicole Thompson Adams, who has lived in the nabe for 35 years.

Community Board 2’s executive committee will vote on whether to support the school at its meeting on April 24, and will then pass on recommendation to the Board of Standards and Appeals, which will make the final call.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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