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Plans Reveal Upper West Side's First New School Building in Decades

By Leslie Albrecht | December 15, 2011 8:07am
A rendering of P.S. 342, the K-8 school to open in 2015 at Riverside Center, a five-tower complex on the Upper West Side.
A rendering of P.S. 342, the K-8 school to open in 2015 at Riverside Center, a five-tower complex on the Upper West Side.
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Dattner Architects

UPPER WEST SIDE — Upper West Siders will get a look at the first new public school to be built in the neighborhood in decades on Thursday night.

Officials with the School Construction Authority are scheduled to present plans for the K-8 public school to be constructed at the upcoming Riverside Center development at Community Board 7's Youth, Education and Libraries committee meeting.

The new school, P.S./I.S. 342, will serve 488 pre-K through 8th grade students with more than 20 classrooms, art and music rooms, a science suite, a library, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria, according to an announcement from Dattner Architects, the firm selected to design the school.

It will be on the first four floors of a high-rise apartment tower on West End Avenue between 60th and 61st streets, according to Dattner.

New public schools have been created on the Upper West Side in recent years inside existing public school buildings, but it's been decades since a public school was built from scratch.

Riverside Center, a five-tower apartment and retail complex, was approved by the City Council late last year. Construction is slated to begin next year, and the school would open in September 2015.

The development will bring 2,500 apartments, a movie theater, auto showroom, office space and parking for 1,500 cars to what is now the largest piece of vacant land on the Upper West Side.

The massive development was OK-ed after a lengthy and contentious public review process during which community members pleaded with developer Extell Development Company to build a school large enough to accommodate the Upper West Side's booming school-age population.

Community Board 7 and other local officials argued that Extell should build and pay for a 150,000 square-foot school at Riverside Center to lessen the impact on already crowded local schools.

"I'm tired of building after building after building going up without consideration of the impact it has on our schools," said Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, co-president of the P.S. 199 Parent Teacher Association, at a Planning Commission hearing on the development last fall.

"We cannot afford to see this development go up without sufficient school space."

Extell President Gary Barnett said then that building a 150,000 square foot school would add $35 to $40 million to his costs and threaten the project's economic viability.

Extell eventually agreed to build and pay for the "core and shell" of a 100,000 square-foot school. The core and shell includes walls, roofing, HVAC and electrical systems. The city's School Construction Authority is expected to pay for and build the school's other elements.

Riverside Center is the final piece of Riverside South, the string of luxury high-rises along the far West Side that was approved in the early 1990s.

Community Board 7's Youth, Education and Libraries Committee meets at 6 p.m. Thursday at Community Board 7's offices, 250 W. 87th Street.