By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — The developer of a $700 million, one million square foot mixed-use project on East 57th Street celebrated a milestone this week in the first phase of their mega-project: the topping out of the two new schools under construction there.
The World-Wide Group — which was selected for the project after a competitive bid process to develop the 1.5-acre site as a public/private partnership — will open P.S. 59 and the High School of Art and Design in the fall of 2012, along with a 38,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market.
The second phase of the project at 250 East 57th St. — a 59-story residential tower with 320 new rental and condo units — will be completed over the next three years.
The project, designed by architecture firm Skidmore, Owing & Merrill, was altered to reduce the cost, nixing additional excavation, for instance.
"The size and scope of this project presented many challenges," a spokesman for World-Wide said. "However, they were able to overcome these challenges by finding innovative sources of funding and streamlining construction costs."
As part of the deal, World-Wide had built a temporary space for P.S. 59, at 213 East 63rd St., since the original school at the new building's site was demolished in 2009. The developer has sold that interim space to the Department of Education. P.S. 267, which was created this year to ease overcrowding on the Upper East Side, will move into the 63rd Street space when P.S. 59 heads back to 57th Street.
The new P.S. 59, which serves grades K-5, will have 730 seats, up from 400.
The high school, currently housed at 1075 Second Ave., will have 1,400 seats in its new home.