EAST HARLEM — Harlem RBI celebrated the opening of its multimillion-dollar charter school, 11-story affordable housing development and public park with the help of Yankee slugger Mark Teixiera Thursday morning.
The $84 million, 143,000-square-foot complex at the corner of 104th Street and Second Avenue is home to about 500 students and 88 affordable housing units.
The Bronx Bombers' third baseman, who supports Harlem RBI, came to the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning to give some words of encouragement.
“It’s not one player on a baseball team or softball team that can carry it,” Teixiera told an auditorium filled with about 200 people. “It’s the entire community. This building, this beautiful new space for Harlem RBI and Dream School isn’t because of one person or one group of people — it’s because of the entire community.”
Parents of students who attend Dream Charter School said their children cannot stop talking about the new building. The school features a full chef’s kitchen, a gymnasium, a garden and a public playground by the front door.
It is the first new school to be built in East Harlem in 30 years, according to Harlem RBI.
“They are so happy,” said Josefina Radelva, who has a second-grader and a seventh-grader at the school. “They love everything about the school.”
The move will also makes the morning commute easier for parents. Last year, half of Dream Charter School was located in P.S. 50 on First Avenue and 101st Street, while the other half was located at P.S. 38 on Second Avenue and 103rd Street.
“It was difficult,” said Elvia Villegas, who had to drop her kids off at both addresses. “They had the same schedule, so one of them would be late. This makes it a lot easier.”
For residents of the new Yomo Toro Apartments, getting picked to live there felt like winning the lottery. More than 78,000 applicants signed up for just 88 units, according to Harlem RBI.
“When I got the letter that I was accepted, I didn’t know what to think,” said Jonathan De Leon, an alumni of Harlem RBI. “I’m mostly grateful for the opportunity I have for my daughter. This will be a great opportunity for her to grow around an environment and resources that maybe I did not have.”
Teixeira encouraged children to learn from the hard work it took to build the complex, which started in 2008.
“Our kids, when they come in here, they should understand this is a lesson that we need to teach them," he said. "They need to understand that you know that you aren’t going to be a Major League Baseball player right away, you are not going to be a doctor right away, you are not going to be a lawyer right away. It takes planning, it takes a lot of hard work, it takes teammates.”