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New 476-Seat Elementary School To Be Built in Financial District, City Says

By Irene Plagianos | January 15, 2016 6:01pm | Updated on January 17, 2016 11:02pm
 A new public elementary school is on its way to Lower Manhattan
A new public elementary school is on its way to Lower Manhattan
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

LOWER MANHATTAN — A new public elementary school is on its way to Lower Manhattan, after a yearslong push from local parents, advocates and elected officials to secure more room for Downtown's swelling population of young students.

The 476-seat school is slated for 77 Greenwich St., within a planned mixed-use tower being developed by real estate company Trinity Place Holdings Inc, the School Construction Authority announced Thursday.

The new complex, at the site of the former Syms Clothing store, also includes redevelopment for the neighboring Robert and Ann Dickey House, a city landmark. According to reports, the proposed building may soar 80 stories or higher. Design plans for the school are expected to be released in the summer, the SCA said in its announcement. 

SCA officials said the new location came as a recommendation from "community leaders and parents."

"Our strong partnership with local leaders to find and secure additional seats for our city's students has continued with great success," said Lorraine Grillo, president of the SCA in a statement. "With this framework deal, the developer and SCA will move forward as quickly as possible to bring additional seats to another neighborhood in our five boroughs."

The school's entrance will be on Trinity Place, neighboring the Elizabeth Berger Plaza, a sparse park that's undergoing an overhaul and upgrade.

Several local elected officials, community leaders and parents said they were thrilled with the news.

Eric Greenleaf, a Downtown parent and longtime advocate for alleviating school overcrowding, said finally getting a new school sited, something the DOE had been working on for a couple of years, is "wonderful."

"It's great that they've finally found a place to for the school," Greenleaf said. "With the huge number of new apartment buildings and [condo] conversions happening Downtown, and current overcrowding in some of our local schools, like PS 276, we certainly need the space."

Parents, local advocates and elected officials have for years been meeting monthly for an Overcrowding School Task Force with DOE officials — a group long-helmed by disgraced former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver — to push for more school seats in Lower Manhattan, as kindergarten waitlists soared, and dedicated classroom space for arts and sciences at some school were being lost to the overcrowding crunch. 

Local elected officials, including Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Borough President Gale Brewer and state Sen. Daniel Squadron will continue to lead the task force, they said. The first meeting without Silver will be held on Feb. 5, at 250 Broadway, a spokeswoman for Squadron said.

Several new public schools have opened Downtown in recent years — including the 700-seat Peck Slip school that opened in the fall — but parents have long worried that even the addition of Peck Slip would not be enough to accommodate the overflow of students in Lower Manhattan.

The SCA did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding when they estimate the school may open.