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Low-Income Day Care Faces Uncertain Future After Sale of Building

By Leslie Albrecht | December 12, 2013 6:39am
 The Shirley Chisholm Day Care Center on 14th Street was purchased by developers for $4.25 million.
Park Slope Low-Income Day Care Faces Uncertain Future After Building Sells
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PARK SLOPE — The future of one of Park Slope's only day care centers for low-income families is in doubt because developers recently bought the building, the facility's leaders say.

A buyer listed as 1314 Developers LLC purchased 333 14th St. for $4.25 million in October, public records show. The two-story 16,000-square-foot building is home to the Shirley Chisholm Day Care Center, and was marketed in real estate listings as a "development and conversion" site.

Now the center's head worries his classrooms could become condos.

Executive Director Philip David hasn't heard yet from the building's new owners and said he's in the dark about the building's future, but he's seen other instances where day care centers closed because their leases weren't renewed when a new owner took over.

"The next thing you know, the building is condos," David said.

The Shirley Chisholm Day Care Center, which is operated under a contract with the city's Administration for Children's Services, has leased the building since 1995. An ACS spokesman said the city will contact the new owners to discuss the lease and its "potential renewal."

The lease expires in December 2014, according to the city's Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

Yossi Ariel, the real estate developer listed as the contact for 1314 Developers LLC in state records, said there are currently no plans for the building. "The people that bought it, they bought it to keep it," Ariel said.

He said the owner is out of the country and couldn't be reached for comment.

Ariel has a background in condo development. He previously worked for Ore International, which converted a building at 936 Fulton St. into 11 "loft-like homes," and got press during the economic downturn for finishing stalled condo projects. 

His name and address are also listed as the contact for Fulton Halsey Development Group, which recently bought the Slave Theater in Bed-Stuy and reportedly plans to convert that into condos.

That's the scenario that concerns David.

He says losing the Shirley Chisholm Day Care Center would be a blow to low-income families in Brooklyn and beyond. Though the center is in affluent Park Slope, demand for slots is intense.

The center doesn't advertise, but it consistently has a waiting list of 150 to 200 children, said administrative director Ana Adames. Families come from as far away as New Jersey and Long Island. Some pay nothing, others pay from $15 to $150 a week, depending on the family's size and income level.

The Shirley Chisholm Day Care Center is open year-round from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and currently serves 95 children aged 2 to 5. Kids get break, lunch and a snack, as well as lessons in reading, writing and math.

"Everyone wants to get into our program because the quality is good," David said. "[Children] are well prepared to go to the next level of schooling."

Shirley Chisholm is one of just three city-contracted day care centers in Park Slope. The rest are private facilities that charge up to $2,000 a month, according to a recent survey by Park Slope Parents.

David is hoping nearby residents — perhaps even mayor-elect Bill de Blasio — will start asking the building's new owners about their plans.

"Let's say they want to do condos — it would really impact this community," David said.

"Childcare is needed. We want our children to be well-educated, and we want people to have a place where they can put their kids while they go to work."