EXCLUSIVE: In store: City, Downtown mall in talks for new school • Brooklyn Paper

EXCLUSIVE: In store: City, Downtown mall in talks for new school

The grass is greener: Workers at City Tower, right, make $3 more per hour than their counterparts in neighboring 7 Dekalb, even though they are both part of the City Point development.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The city is really shopping around for new school space Downtown!

Education officials are in talks with the developer of the massive new City Point mall and residential complex to build a long-sought-after new public school in its Fulton Street development, according to a local pol familiar with the discussions.

“My understanding is that there have been discussions around siting a school there and those conversations are ongoing,” said Councilman Steve Levin (D–Downtown). “Nothing is promised, but we’re going to continue to work on it. I think it’s absolutely appropriate to have a school there.”

He said that there have been talks with City Point developer Albee Square LLC — composed of Washington Square Partners and Acadia Realty Trust — about building a learning institution to help reduce the need for school seats Downtown, which has seen a boom of residential development after a 2004 rezoning that was meant to bring more office space to the area.

Locals have long argued that the influx of new families will soon overwhelm area elementary schools. City Point alone has added 690 units, with another 450 on the way.

The School Construction Authority — which manages the construction, design, and renovation of schools in the city — has money in its coffers to build more school seats in the area, Levin said, but needs somewhere to put them.

In its latest five-year capital plan, the Department of Education identified the need for around 2,800 new seats in the area — which includes Dumbo, the Navy Yard, and Fort Greene — and said it has funding for almost 2,000 of those, with 333 already in the works.

The city might not have to foot the bill for the new school since developer is planning on paying for the house of learning, Levin said.

“The SCA has already dedicated funds but I don’t believe that’s actually going to be necessary,” he said.

The councilman revealed the discussions after voting to allow another developer to rezone a site on Willoughby Street and Flatbush Avenue Extension where it wants to build a new high-rise — on a site right next door to City Point.

Community Board 2 voted to reject the proposal in June — with members demanding the builder offer sweeteners like school space to offset the added burden it would place on the neighborhood’s already taxed infrastructure — and Borough President Adams also gave it a thumbs down, likewise citing the lack of school space as well as other community benefits.

Levin gave his okay after securing a deal to make the building smaller, but argued that it was unnecessary to push developer Savanna Partners to build or set aside funding for a new Downtown school since one is being planned just next door — even though the deal with Albee Square is not done.

The discussions are a step in the right direction, one local leader said, but more school seats will still be needed to make sure all of the area’s newest, littlest residents are educated.

“Getting a new school very close to 141 Willoughby is an important first step, but it’s only a down-payment on the 3,000 school seats the School Construction Authority recognizes have to be provided in Downtown Brooklyn to meet the needs of the 11,000 units of housing that are going in,” said Peter Bray, head honcho of local civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association.

Washington Square Partners did not return a request for comment by publishing. An Acadia spokesman said he was unaware of any plans to build a school on the site.

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

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