Dear Developers, Please Build a New Elementary School in Downtown Brooklyn! 1

Spruce Street School under NY By Gehy

The Department of Education is a constantly cash-strapped agency, so an increasingly popular method for the DOE to get schools built in fast-growing neighborhoods like Downtown Brooklyn is to have big developers (like you) build a school (or at least the shell of the school) as part of your new residential developments in exchange for concessions like tax breaks or additional buildable square feet.  Two recent examples include Forest City Ratner’s building of the Spruce Street elementary school as part of their NY By Gehry (Beekman Tower) skyscraper in lower Manhattan and Two Trees building a new middle school as part of their Dock Street development in DUMBO.
In a recent issue of Crain’s NY,  Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, weighed in with his OP-ED “Revise zoning code to boost public facilities” which suggests that the city should actively change zoning in order to encourage developers to include state-of-the-art municipal facilities (like a school) as a part of new developments. With the swift pace of redevelopment in Downtown Brooklyn, this type of arrangement may be the only way for the city to build a new school in the neighborhood before it has a serious overcrowding problem like what is already happening in lower Manhattan.
Our group has looked closely at the new  developments which are planning on bringing new residents to the neighborhood and have identified several locations that could potentially hold a new school as part of the project. We would like one or more of you to consider including a school… it would be a major positive for your building, good for the community, and good for the current and future families of the neighborhood. Any developer who steps up to the plate would have our support.
Here are a couple of prime development locations that would be good for a school in Downtown Brooklyn:
  • 675 FULTON (aka 10 Metrotech) – FOREST CITY RATNER:  This is perfectly situated in the center of the bulk of the new high-rise growth in District 13.  Since Forest City Ratner demolished this building and building more residential units, a mid-block school would be an excellent option.  The lot is currently for sale for $165 million or as a co-development site. FCR also has a history at Beekman Tower (NY by Gehry) including a new school.
  • MACY’S GARAGE aka 11 HOYT : This very large parking garage at Hoyt St. and Livingston St. is currently for sale.  It is a 58,400 s.f. lot (584,000 ZFA) and centrally located in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn.  This is the largest footprint left in the neighborhood and developers are circling.
  • HARE KRISHNA TEMPLE @ 305 SCHERMERHORN STREET : 34,000-square-foot property located in D15 houses a 187,000 square feet building but is zoned for something larger. They are decamping for Queens. Currently for sale for $60 million.
  • LONG ISLAND HOSPITAL, COBBLE HILL – SUNY has sold the LICH properties to the Fortis Group for redevelopment.  It will be replaced by a new scaled-down medical facility and possibly 1000 residential units.  There should be a D15 school built as part of the project.
  • UNDEVELOPED LOT ON JAY ST AND CONCORD ST: We’ve heard that a developer has approached city reps about including a community space in a new development at this location in District 13. It’s proximity to Downtown and DUMBO (where crowding is already a problem at P.S. 8). Current building on site is being demolished. (Will become a high-rise and hotel, no school)
  • 210 LIVINGSTON – BENENSON CAPITAL PARTNERS AND ROSE ASSOCIATES:  The building has been demolished, can build up to 300,000 sq ft. In District 15 a great location for a school. (Will become a high-rise – no school)
  • CITY POINT PHASE 3 – ACADIA REALTY TRUST:  The final residential tower (and possibly the tallest building in Brooklyn) of the City Point Development is still several years away from the construction phase and is ideally located in D13. A school at this location would help anchor the community.
  • CUNY / CITY TECH: The city owns several university buildings at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.  They last flirted with Forest City Ratner back in 2007 about the possibility of building a huge skyscraper at Jay Street (where they are now building a smaller new building.) Think big…how about redeveloping the building on the other side of Jay St. to give CUNY much needed classroom space, add office space/residential in the heart of the Tech Triangle, build a complex of ground level retail that welcomes pedestrians coming off the Brooklyn Bridge AND include an elementary school.  At the moment there is an underutilized plaza in the middle.
  • UNDEVELOPED LOT AT 75 SCHERMERHORN – EDISON PROPERTIES: This mid-block surface parking lot was once slated to be a hotel but is still a 7000 sq foot parking lot situated in D15.
  • UNDEVELOPED LOT @ HOYT AND SCHERMERHORN – ABBY HAMLIN VENTURES: Hamlin has transformed much of the neighborhood along Schermerhorn and State St. Once mentioned as a spot for an ‘art park’, this surface parking lot is well situated in District 15.
  • BLOCK BOUNDED WILLOUGHBY, JAY ST. LAWRENCE AND FULTON – UNITED AMERICAN LAND – According to Brownstoner, UAL is buying up contiguous properties in the block bounded by Fulton, Lawrence, Jay and Willoughby St.   Are they going to build something or flip the property? This is centrally located in District 13.
  • NYU-POLY: NYU-Poly has plans for building a new grad school at a renovated 370 Jay St. and new towers on their campus in Metrotech.  They should also build a state-of-art K-8 lab magnet school for their STEM program on the campus as part of one of these developments.  This would reinforce the Tech Triangle initiative with a science and technology-oriented elementary school in Downtown Brooklyn.

Thank you for consideration.

Best Regards,

The many current and future families of Downtown Brooklyn,

Downtown Brooklyn School Solutions


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