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Developer Delays Opening of New Riverside Center School

By Emily Frost | February 26, 2016 2:09pm
 A rendering of P.S. 342, the K-8 school set to open at Riverside Center, a five-tower complex on the Upper West Side.
A rendering of P.S. 342, the K-8 school set to open at Riverside Center, a five-tower complex on the Upper West Side.
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Dattner Architects

UPPER WEST — Despite local leaders' hopes that the forthcoming Riverside Center school could open next year, the developer constructing the exterior is six months behind schedule — meaning it likely won't welcome students until 2018, Department of Education officials announced.

The Dermot Company, which is building the new school at the base of its luxury residential development at 21 West End Ave., was supposed to deliver the school's "shell" last month, School Construction Authority (SCA) officials said Wednesday. 

Instead, the shell of the new P.S. 342 won't be ready until July, said SCA CEO Lorraine Grillo. The delay means the authority can't even begin the bidding process for interior construction until then, making a target opening date in September 2017 very unlikely, she told Community Education Council 3 members. 

The school was originally projected to open in 2015.

"The progress on the site by the developer has been slow," Grillo said, adding that delays the $40 million in interior work required to make it ready for 692 students. 

"There’s no way [the school] can be ready in 2017," because of the "bureaucracy that’s attached to working in public business," including a full review of construction bids and an integrity review of the contractor, Grillo acknowledged.

Under the current timeline, the earliest the SCA could open the school is September 2018, she said. 

However, "we're pulling out all the stops" and trying to get the developer to do some of the work, which would expedite the process, Grillo said. 

CEC 3 members are pushing for an earlier opening date because they're concerned about overcrowding at the southern end of the district, especially with new residential buildings opening in Riverside Center. 

They also would like to move P.S. 191, the K-8 school on West 61st Street, into the new school building. 

"I think that’s amazing," Grillo said of the plan to move P.S. 191 to P.S. 342.

Other DOE officials have supported P.S. 191's move as well, but the plan has not been finalized.

Grillo promised to get back to the CEC in a few weeks with an answer regarding how much the developer could pitch in and whether the opening date could be moved up. 

The Dermot Company declined to comment. 

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