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New Public School To Rise In Area of Need: the Village

New Public School To Rise In Area of Need: the Village

New York Sun 5/9/2008


Greenwich Village, a Lower Manhattan neighborhood where parents have been clamoring for more school options, is getting a new public elementary school, thanks to help from a private real estate developer, Rudin Management Co.

The deal will not produce an actual school until at least 2012, when school officials said they expect renovations to begin. But it is already raising hopes in the neighborhood that more residential developers will follow Rudin’s example and work to build schools along with new high-rises and condominiums.

Rudin’s chief operating officer, John Gilbert, said the company became involved in part because of a personal request from the president and CEO of the School Construction Authority, Sharon Greenberger, to help the city build new public schools — and in part as a result of a development project Rudin is seeking to push through with St. Vincent’s Hospital.

The project, an expansion of the hospital that would also include luxury housing, has met strong resistance from some members of the Greenwich Village community.

Mr. Gilbert said the new school aims to address community concerns in another area.

“As we’ve been engaged for over a year now with conversations with the community, it became very clear to us that one of the needs down there is pre-K through five elementary schools,” he said.

A parent at P.S. 41 who has been lobbying for relief for overcrowded classrooms, Irene Kaufman, praised Rudin for facilitating the deal. “The needs of the community have been very clear, and they listened, and we’re grateful for that,” Ms. Kaufman said. “But it would be great to start a precedent in the city of development triggering school construction.”

The school site is on Sixth Avenue between 16th and 17th streets, at the building now owned by a child welfare agency, the New York Foundling, which will retain the building’s top floors — and lend its name to the school, to be called the Foundling School.

School officials estimate a need for 3,150 additional seats in District 2, where the Village is located.

A recent report by the president of Manhattan, Scott Stringer, suggested that those estimates were too low because they do not account for new residential buildings, focus on district level analyses rather than neighborhood ones, and do not include a plan to lower class size.

Ms. Kaufman said that when her son entered P.S. 41 three years ago, there were five kindergarten classes. When her daughter entered last year, there were seven.