MOTT HAVEN — A landmarked and recently demolished school that claimed Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. as one of its alumni could become a new site for affordable housing.
P.S. 31, at 425 Grand Concourse and affectionately referred to as "Castle on the Concourse," has been torn down, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development now hopes to transform the lot into a mixed-use affordable housing complex.
The agency announced on Monday that it would be accepting Requests for Proposal for the site, specifying that ideas should include affordable housing for a range of incomes, along with ground-floor retail or a mixture of retail and community space. At least 15 percent of units should be three-bedrooms, and no more than 15 percent should be studios.
Designs must also incorporate features that were salvaged from the old school, such as gargoyles and the engraved P.S. 31 sign.
The demolition of P.S. 31, a landmarked building that closed in 1997, was extremely controversial. Although the city maintained that it had fallen into dangerous disrepair, particularly after being rocked by Hurricane Sandy, locals claimed that these fears were exaggerated and that the building could've been saved.
The Bronx economic development group SoBRO argued that the school was salvageable and that they had a plan to convert it into apartments for artists, while Ed García Conde, founder of the blog Welcome2TheBronx, had spearheaded a petition urging people to save the site from demolition that gained almost 1,500 signatures.
"Why was this building neglected for so long?" the petition asks. "Had it perhaps been in Brooklyn or Manhattan then maybe it would have been salvaged immediately."
However, the city ultimately determined that P.S. 31 was dangerously beyond repair and recently demolished the building.
The affordable housing units are meant to be part of the city's Housing New York plan, which aims to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years.
RFPs are due on Sept. 28 by 4 p.m., and a pre-submission conference will take place on July 31 at 10 a.m. in the second floor auditorium at 125 Worth St.
Although Diaz said in a statement that he was distraught over the destruction of the historic building, he maintained that new plans for the lot could still benefit Mott Haven.
"Though I am heartbroken to see the demolition of P.S. 31, my alma mater, we must make the most of the opportunity that has been created," he said. "This site has incredible potential to help renew an area that has seen considerable interest from all corners in recent months and is a key component of our plan for a reinvigorated Harlem River waterfront district."