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World Wide Holdings, Inc

World Wide Holdings, Inc

Category: Real Estate Advisory

Subcategory: RFP Responses

Project: In 2006, the City of New York’s educational Construction Fund (“ECF”) issued a Request for Expressions of Interest for the redevelopment of the educational complex located at Second Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan. This highly visible 1.5 acre site houses both Public School 59 and the High School of Art and Design. Seeking to redevelop the site in order to obtain larger, better-equipped schools as well as significant revenue to fund renovation of other public facilities, the ECF offered respondents air rights and a 75-year ground lease in return for the on-site replacement of the two schools.

World Wide Holdings, Inc. (“World Wide”) retained Capalino+Company to assist in the preparation of their response, proposing a $500 million design by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill that included: a new Public School 59 (with 330 additional seats); the new High School of Art and Design; 170,000 square feet of retail space; approximately 320 residential units (a mix of market-rate and affordable units, both for sale and rental); and approximately 30 more affordable off-site units, located within Community Board #6.

Challenge:Once designated as the developer, World Wide faced major challenges in securing community support for its proposal.  Some community members criticized the ECF’s decision to bypass the Uniform Land Use Review Process (“ULURP”) that grant t Community Boards oversight over development initiatives.  World Wide also had to devise a building schedule that could keep both existing schools open during construction of the new facilities, obliging it to secure nearby “swing space” for Public School 59 (a major challenge in Manhattan’s highly competitive real estate market).

Another logistical challenge facing World Wide was the need to create distinct school entrances – removed from loading facilities and from each other – that also took into account high traffic volumes on surrounding streets and the eventual impact of the Second Avenue Subway.  Project goals including LEED-rated design, state-of-the-art student amenities, revitalized amenity retail at 57th St/Second Avenue and the need to satisfy adjacent residential property owners,  created a challenging climate in which to advance the proposal.  Debate among parents, neighborhood organizations and community members over design and technical issues threatened to delay the project.

Strategy: Capalino+Company engaged the local community to build broad community support for its client’s proposal. Throughout the decision-making process, Capalino+Company arranged briefings of key community leaders, including legislators and Administration officials, alongside regular public sessions with community members. In each of these meetings, Capalino+Company sought to dispel misconceptions about World Wide’s proposal, as well as to emphasize to interested parties the project’s main benefits (including the innovative design concept and ’bonus’ school at the swing space).

Result: Sustained public outreach persuaded key community leaders and members to endorse World Wide’s project proposal adding impetus to the City administration’s intention of designating the company to provide three new schools through private sector financing. PS 59’s 450 students will occupy a newly renovated temporary facility on East 63rd Street in September of 2008. The final occupancy of the new on-site schools will occur in September of 2011.