YORKVILLE —The elite all-girls private school that was slapped with a $34 million lawsuit after firing its construction management company this summer says its major expansion project is running at least a year behind schedule.
The project, which would add three stories to the 100 East End Ave. school building, has drawn the ire of neighbors since its start last year, with residents complaining about all-night construction work and congestion on their street.
While the school had originally reassured neighbors that the work would wrap up by 2019, the school announced during a monthly construction update meeting on Sept. 27 that the deadline would be pushed back, though they could not provide a specific reason for the delay.
"Significant work has been done for the job, but there's still more left to do and will happen during the school year,” said MJ Quigley, Chapin's associate head of school.
“Originally, when folks were talking about a completion date, it was the 2018-2019 school year. We don't think that's likely to happen now. We don't know when, but it will be later than that.”
In June, the Chapin School fired its project management company IBEX Construction, claiming it did not fulfill its contract. The company filed a lawsuit against the school last month, saying it was wrongfully terminated and that the school owed IBEX more than $14 million for its work.
School officials said the lawsuit was "without merit," and denies that the change in project management has anything to do with the current delay in the project.
Quigley said that the school still needs to erect the steel frames for the expansion, and that work cannot be done until next summer, when students are out on break.
The steel was slated for installation this summer, but the school had enough on its plate with excavation and the installation of some structural support, Quigley said.
"When it comes to lifting steel, the hours may be different," she said. "There's only a certain amount of time we can do that work."
In addition, "interior structural reinforcement work that must be done prior to erecting steel has not yet been completed," said Anneli Ballard, a spokeswoman for the school.
The school's new construction management company, JRM Construction, said it is still working out the schedule for when construction work will occur while school is in session this year. The school will make its decision by the end of this month, Quigley said.
The current work hours for the project, which ends by 6 p.m. on weekdays, by 5 p.m. on Saturday, and no external work done on Sundays, will remain in effect while JRM prepares the schedule for the project's next steps.
It’s possible the entire project will be finished during the 2019-2020 school year, Quigley said.
The school will continue to meet with the community on a monthly basis to make sure the construction hours are appropriate since the expansion has taken heat from neighbors who said construction was too disruptive last summer.
But most of the noisy exterior work has been completed, school officials said, though there may be two to three weeks of noise once a crane goes in on East 84th Street to lift the steel skeleton onto the existing building. A timeline for that part has not yet been set.
The $135 million project, the school’s second expansion in a decade, involves adding height to its current eight-story schoolhouse to make room for a regulation size gym, a second dining hall and additional classrooms.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the current construction hours. They end at 6 p.m. on weekdays and end at 5 p.m. on weekends.