New schools planned for Midtown Manhattan

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today unveiled architectural designs for two new school buildings in Midtown Manhattan that will be built with private investment. The estimated $200 million cost of construction for PS 59 and the High School of Art and Design on East 57thStreet will be paid for by private developers as part of a partnership with the Department of Education's Educational Construction Fund (ECF), which develops mixed-use real estate projects featuring new school facilities.

In addition, PS 59's temporary location, which is newly renovated and the City's first "green" school building, will become home to a new school when the 57thStreet project is completed and PS 59 moves into its permanent building. Chancellor Klein was joined at the unveiling at the temporary site of PS 59, on East 63rdStreet, by Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, ECF Executive Director Jamie Smarr, School Construction Authority President Sharon Greenberger, World-Wide Group Partner David Lowenfeld, State Senator Liz Kruger, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Councilmembers Daniel Garodnick and Jessica Lappin, PS 59 Principal Adele Schroeter, and High School of Art and Design Principal Scott Feltzin.

"This innovative project represents our largest public-private partnership to date and points to the future of school construction in New York City," Chancellor Klein said. "The result will be beautifully designed schools with modern technology that enhance our students' education and relieve overcrowding across the City."

"The World-Wide Group has a long and successful record of innovative ventures and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work with the City administration on a project that will vastly improve the quality of the educational experience through the creation of three new schools," said David Lowenfeld of World-Wide Group, the project's developer. "This project is a win for all parties involved, delivering three schools while at the same time enhancing 57thStreet's long-term viability as a residential and retail center."

"We are always looking for innovative ways to improve our schools, and this mixed-use project is a great example," Deputy Chancellor of Finance and Administration Kathleen Grimm said. "Through the Educational Construction Fund we lease air rights in exchange for the construction of a new school building; in this case we will have three new school buildings."

"I am proud to be a part of ECF's rebirth," ECF Executive Director Jamie Smarr said. "The agency, once dormant, is now an integral part of the Bloomberg Administration's historic school construction efforts across New York City."

The new school complex on 57thStreet, located at the intersection of Second Avenue, will cover 300,000 square feet. The new building for PS 59 will have 730 seats, allowing the school to accommodate 300 more students. The new building for High School of Art and Design will have 1,400 seats, with classrooms arranged along a "gallery path" to promote student works. The entire 57thStreet project will cover nearly 1,000,000 square feet, with a 59-story residential tower and 170,000 square feet of retail space. The mixed-use facility and on-site schools are being designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP.

The temporary site of PS 59, which moved from its longtime location on 57thStreet to allow for construction on the new project, was formerly a nursing dormitory for Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital. It was renovated by World-Wide Group and designed by architectural firm Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn, using the School Construction Authority's "Green" guidelines and is the first school building to conform to the School Construction Authority's "Green" standards. The building is designed to maximize daylight, reduce water consumption through the use of metered faucets and dual-flush toilets, and was constructed with cleaner materials to improve air quality. It will eventually be used as a new, 500 seat school in District 2, bringing the total number of new seats being created under this partnership to 830.

The new school buildings are scheduled to open in 2012. The school portion of the mixed-use project will be financed via tax exempt bonds issued by ECF. In ECF projects, the developer repays the bonds in return for rights to develop a site that includes new school construction along with commercial and residential space. The World-Wide Group is leasing the 57thStreet site from ECF for 75 years.

The development will take place in two phases. Phase I, a three-year period, includes the development and construction of the two new schools and 65,000 square feet of retail space. Whole Foods has leased 47,000 square feet of the retail facilities to be built in this phase.

Phase II involves the design and construction of a new, mixed-use portion that features approximately 320 for-sale and rental residential units, and 100,000 square feet of retail space.

Since its creation by the State Legislature in 1967, ECF has constructed 15 projects in New York City that include 18,000 school seats, 1.2 million square feet of office space, and 4,500 apartments.

The World-Wide Group and its affiliates are privately held investment companies based in New York City. The group has been engaged in real estate development for over half a century. With a reputation for successfully tackling complex urban development opportunities, World-Wide has developed over $3 billion worth of new luxury residential properties in New York City, including 255 East 74thStreet, Milan, 50 Murray Street, 53 Park Place, 88 Greenwich Street, 71 Broadway, The Steiner Building in Chelsea and The Reade Street Condominiums in Tribeca.