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Replace Borders Books With School Seats, Downtown Parents Say

By Julie Shapiro | February 23, 2011 4:53pm | Updated on February 24, 2011 6:34am
The Borders at 100 Broadway is closing this spring, after the chain declared bankruptcy.
The Borders at 100 Broadway is closing this spring, after the chain declared bankruptcy.
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mightymac.org

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Borders' loss could be Millennium High School’s gain.

After the bookstore giant declared bankruptcy last week and announced that it was closing three Manhattan stores, including the one at 100 Broadway, downtown residents suggested the space could become an annex for the overcrowded Millennium High School.

"It would be just a dream come true," said Tom Moore, co-president of Millennium’s Parents’ Association.

Millennium High School, which accepted just 3 percent of its applicants last year and often has to hold classes in the hallway, has been advocating for months to expand into a second location.

The 31,000-square-foot Borders space, in the landmarked building across from Trinity Church, is just a few blocks from Millennium and could house a long-sought gym for the school. The store is expected to close before the end of April, according to its website.

Millennium High School was built in former office space on Broad Street without a gym and hopes to expand to the Borders space on Broadway.
Millennium High School was built in former office space on Broad Street without a gym and hopes to expand to the Borders space on Broadway.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1, called School Construction Authority President Lorraine Grillo on Tuesday to tell her about the Borders space.

Grillo had not heard about it, but "she assured me she would look into it," Menin said.

The School Construction Authority and the building's manager did not immediately comment.

Karen Manville, co-president of Millennium’s Parents' Association, said she was not sure whether the Borders space would be big enough to house an entire annex, complete with classrooms, but she hoped it could at least hold a gym.

"My early reaction is, 'Wow, it would be fabulous,'" Manville said. "But we've had rumors of hope before. We need the Department of Education to focus on it."

Millennium parents and staff previously hoped to open a new outpost of the popular school nearby at 26 Broadway, but the city gave that space to the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching instead.

After losing that battle, Millennium parents worried they would never get a gym and wrote a letter to the SCA last week expressing their concerns.

Robert Rhodes, principal of Millennium, said Wednesday that the location of the Borders space couldn't be better for the school. 

"It's a gorgeous space with incredibly high ceilings," Rhodes said. "We could do a lot with it."

Whether or not the Borders space comes through for Millennium, Menin said it should definitely go toward much-needed school seats downtown.

"It is so rare to get a large space in the Financial District," Menin said. "It's a site the SCA should be aware of."