Major takedown: City to demolish landmarked former precinct for school

Landmark case: City to sue owner of crumbling building
Photo by Steve Schnibbe

Here’s the lessen plan.

The city will knock over Sunset Park’s castle-like former police precinct to make way for 300 classroom seats, officials announced on June 13. School Construction Authority reps made the pitch to Community Board Seven, claiming the crumbling landmark at Fourth Avenue and 43rd Street would “probably have to come down” while also showing photos of schools the agency previously built atop demolished historic structures.

The news divided locals — the building deserves a shot, but the district needs learning space, one area parent said.

“We need the seats,” said Nick Nyhan, a father of four and parent teacher organization member. “I want to preserve that beautiful building — I really do like it — but we need those seats.”

But another dad argued that reopening the 124-year-old-and-showing-it mini-fortress as a school would spark children’s excitement for learning.

“Of all the buildings that could be demolished in Sunset Park, you’re going to knock down the police station? Unbelievable,” Peter Kruty said. “That building fires the imagination of everyone who sees it — my two kids in grammar school love to go by that building.”

Community board and local education council members supported the plan, along with Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park). But preservationists argued 300 seats was too few to cede the landmark and said they want the structure restored and publicly accessible — something a developer who recently bought the land was planning.

Officials have reached an agreement with owner Yosef Streicher for the property — an eventuality the builder’s lawyer predicted to this paper last week.

School Construction Authority reps refused to say the agency would definitely demolish the building, which would require a virtually unheard-of un-landmarking or for the city to condemn the derelict structure as a hazard. However, they did show locals photos of schools the agency build with an aesthetic nod to the historic buildings that they replaced, such as PS 133 in Park Slope, which rose from an older schoolhouse, and PS 30 in Bay Ridge, which succeeded the Green Church.

Streicher bought the station house and neighboring horse stable for $6 million last year after the city threatened to sue a previous owner if it did not fix up the property or sell it off.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.