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Dwight School Plans New Athletic Center in East Harlem Co-Op

By Emily Frost | January 31, 2013 5:56pm

UPPER WEST SIDE — The Dwight School is opening an athletic center in East Harlem this spring, the school announced Wednesday.

The private school at 89th Street and Central Park West, which has students from pre-K through 12th grade, will team up with 1199 Housing Corporation to run a recreational facility at the East River Landing complex in East Harlem. 

The 40,000-square-foot recreational facility, at East 108th Street and First Avenue, will be renamed the Dwight School Athletic Center.

The facility has been closed for more than two decades, after residents were unable to maintain it. The housing corporation had to invest $4 million for asbestos removal and other updates to make it available for leasing, according to the The New York Times.

The Dwight School signed a 20-year lease to run and rehabilitate the facility and plans to invest about $2 million in renovations. Improvements include adding bleachers to the gym so that it will seat 200 people, adding two tennis courts to the rooftop and lockers to the locker rooms, furnishing the empty multi-purpose rooms and filling and cleaning the swimming pool, according to the school.

"The multi-purpose rooms may be outfitted for martial arts, fitness, yoga, dance, movement — they can be used for a variety of things," said Laurie Silbersweig, the school's director of marketing and communications.

The school would not disclose the cost of running and maintaining the facility.

The 6,500 East River Landing residents will have access to the center in the mornings, evenings and weekends, with the school's 762 students using it in the afternoons and during some of the summer for its summer camp.

"We believe that it will bring a significant economic benefit to the East River Landing cooperative, and a personal benefit to our residents who will be able to share in the use of the upgraded facility,” said William Dames, president of 1199 Housing Corporation.

The facility will also enhance the school's appeal, Silbersweig said.

"There are only four or five independent schools that have a pool, so it will be very very special to be able to offer that at Dwight," she said. "It’s going to revolutionize our ability to offer kids the full complement of athletic resources."

Previously, the Dwight School had a small gym, no tennis courts and no swimming pools.

"And like all New York City independent schools, our kids are used to traveling to other spaces," Sibersweig said.

The commute to the center by bus will only be 11 to 12 minutes, she added, a much closer trip for the students.

The school will also offer East River Landing residents three scholarships to the school a year.