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City to Buy West Village School Building for $40M

 The building at 75 Morton St. will become a new public school, city officials say.
The building at 75 Morton St. will become a new public school, city officials say.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

MANHATTAN — The creation of a new public school on Morton Street in the West Village is closer to becoming a reality.

Following years of community pleas for additional school capacity, the city will pay $40 million to take over the seven-story building at 75 Morton St. currently used by the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and transform it into a school, the neighborhood's elected officials announced.

The long-awaited deal for the 177,000-square-foot building will help give local kids a better education, City Council speaker Christine Quinn said Friday.

"We are taking much-needed steps to [reduce] overcrowding and bring much-needed educational capacity to the Village," she said in a statement. "I am thrilled that an agreement has been reached to ensure that all children will be placed in the best possible learning environment to achieve success.”  

The city has signed a contract for the sale of the building with the state and put down a deposit, a spokeswoman for Quinn said, but it was not immediately clear when the transfer would be final.

Conversations about the specific use of the building have focused on the creation of one or two new middle schools, serving a total of 900 students, so children could attend school near their homes in the West Village, Greenwich Village, the Meatpacking District and Chelsea instead of commuting as far away as the Upper East Side.

Quinn announced plans for the purchase of the building in March 2012, when the City Council approved Rudin Management's plan to convert the former St. Vincent's Hospital into luxury condos. Critics of the project argued the development would increase the density of the Village without increasing its school capacity.

State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick kicked off the pursuit of the building, located on Morton Street near Hudson Street, by spotting a sale notification for the building. She praised Village parents and education activists for fighting for the school for the past four years.

"This is a perfect example of a community effort which includes parents and advocates, and the good results we can get when we are all united for the same great cause," she said in a statement.