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Windows We Are: ‘Windows We Will Be’

This former car wash on Fourth Avenue near 89th Street is slated to be a new school, a move that will spare Windows We Are, a window company whose store was coveted by school construction officials.
The Brooklyn Paper / Emily Lavin

The glass shop Windows We Are is finally in the clear now that the city is eyeballing a new site for a proposed public school that would have displaced the Fifth Avenue pane peddler.

After initially honing in on Windows We Are — and a few adjacent businesses between 91st and 92nd streets — the School Construction Authority is now considering a closed car wash, a shuttered car stereo shop, and a vacant lot between 88th and 89th streets as the site of the planned PS 435, said Laurie Windsor, president of the local school board.

And no one is happier about that than Windows We Are co-owner Scott Turnbull, who feared that the city would use its eminent domain power to force his shop out of its home of 22 years.

“I’m relieved — very relieved,” said Turnbull, whose shop was virtually unknown to non-Ridgites until Republican presidential hopeful John McCain stopped by there in April for a talk about small business. “The kids will have a place to go, and Windows We Are will stay in the same location.”

Turnbull was so apprehensive of losing his space that he didn’t even allow School Construction Authority investigators to examine his land for five months, finally yielding in June.

In the meantime, the agency started considering vacant storefronts four blocks away.

The planned four-story, 437-student, pre-K through fifth grade school could replace the empty shops as soon as September, 2011, but a deal has not yet been finalized with the property owners, Windsor said.

“The School Construction Authority is very serious about this site,” Windsor added. “The schools here are very crowded and we need more seats.”

But not everyone is so enthusiastic about the new interest in the shuttered Fourth Avenue shops. A real-estate broker who was showing the properties claims that a grocery store and a car dealership were in negotiations to move into the empty storefronts — until the city started considering the site for a school

“There is a strong interest there, but [the business owners] are reluctant because of the power that the city has to exercise eminent domain,” said Anthony Grigos, co-owner of the real estate firm 14 Apollo.

“Nobody wants to pull the trigger because of what the city is doing. We’re sort of in a deadlock.”

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