Police academy! City aims to turn landmarked precinct into classrooms

Where’s the love?: The city says a Brooklyn non-profit is neglecting the landmarked 68th Precinct Station House and Stables it owns on Fourth Avenue and 43rd Street.
Photo by Steve Schnibbe

They want to issue a desk appearance.

The city aims to create a 300-seat primary school in the landmarked former 68th Precinct on Fourth Avenue. It would serve a grossly overcrowded school district, but a representative of the current owner lamented the prospect, because the public would not be able to enjoy the century-old building as the cafe the owner has planned there, he said.“It would be a shame if they turned it into a school where everything is obviously gated and closed,” said developer rep Barry Shisgal. “But listen, if that’s what the city wants to do — and they can force us to sell — then we don’t stand a chance against them.”

Owner Yosef Streicher paid $6 million for the property last year and planned to fund a $5 million rehab of both the castle and a neighboring horse stable for potential use as a day care facility with the sale of 10 luxury condominiums he planned to build in an empty portion of the lot. The Department of Education reached out to Streicher to discuss the plan, according to Shisgal, who added he is not privy to how the talks went.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission must sign off on any significant restoration or structural work on the former station house and stables, which are both covered in graffiti and crumbling after years of neglect and a 1980 fire that rendered it uninhabitable.

And a Department of Education representative would not say how the agency would incorporate the buildings into the proposed school, stressing that it is in the early planning stages.

The building’s historic status protects it from demolition — and there is almost no chance the Landmarks Preservation Commission would remove it from the list, an expert said.

“It’s highly, highly unlikely the commission would de-list an individual landmark,” said Andrea Goldwyn, director of public policy at the New York Landmarks Conservancy, adding that she could not recall a case where the commission did give up a landmark.

The city designated the then-municipally-owned structure in 1983, then sold it two years later to a non-profit on the condition it be converted into a community center, but the center never came to fruition. It has changed hands twice since then, but subsequent owner could make good on such a plan.

The Brooklyn Chinese-American Association sold the land to Streicher after the city threatened to sue the group if it did not fix the decrepit eyesore or sell it to someone who would.

A local education advocate applauded the proposal, but said the district needs many more seats to combat general overcrowding.

“We need more than 300, so hopefully it’s the first of many sites,” said Naila Rosari, president of the School District 15 community education council.

The city will hold a public hearing on the plan at the Community Board 7 board room [4201 Fourth Ave. between 42nd and 43rd streets, (718) 854–0003] at 6:30 pm on June 13.

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

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