By Jon Schuppe
MANHATTAN — A Harlem non-profit is trying to overcome community backlash against its plan to demolish a crumbling, historic public school on West 145th Street and build a high-rise apartment building in its place.
The M.L. Wilson Boys and Girls Club of Harlem bought the P.S. 186 property in the 1980s with plans to restore the Hamilton Heights building and use a large proportion of it for non-profit use. But those plans languished after the church realized it couldn’t afford the work. When the group changed its proposal to favor a private development, opposition mounted.
The school, an Italianate-style building, opened to students in 1903 and remained in use until the mid-1970s, when it fell into disrepair and the financially strapped city closed it.
Some longtime neighbors and preservationists want the building saved, even though it would be difficult and costly. Others argue that despite the developer’s promises to include affordable housing, those apartments would remain out of reach for most Harlem residents.
The opposing sides are expected to square off again on Monday night, at a joint meeting of two Community Board 9 committees, Arts and Culture and Landmarks and Preservation. For more information, visit the CB9 website at http://www.cb9m.org.