UPPER EAST SIDE — A private school that took heat in 2013 for proposing a two-story expansion is beginning construction on East 89th Street next month, according to officials.
The Dalton School, known for teaching celebrities like Chevy Chase, Anderson Cooper, and Claire Danes, announced last week that it is kicking off the $24 million expansion of its 108 E. 89th St. school near Park Avenue in March — three years after getting zoning approval from the city's Board of Standards and Appeals, despite community opposition to the project's size and purpose.
The pending plans, which were submitted to the city's Department of Buildings on Jan. 7, call for an expansion that would bring the 141-foot-tall building to 171 feet, from 13 to 15 stories, to make room for its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program.
It will include a robotics lab, a rooftop greenhouse, a teaching kitchen, a project lab, a performance space and a modern library, officials said.
The building — which is used by students in the fourth through 12th grades, who pay more than $44,600 in tuition a year — would also see renovations on five of its existing floors, the plans show.
Construction of the new stories will start in March, first with safety precautions, and will extend into the summer when school is out, when crews will erect steel using a hydraulic crane.
Construction will be paused during the 2017-2018 school year and start up again in the summer of 2018, continuing through that school year and into the summer of 2019, officials said.
Underneath the two-story addition, the building's facade will be reclad in red brick to match the adjacent buildings.
The school is also planning a two-week closure of its block on East 89th Street, between Park and Lexington avenues, at some point during the summer so that it can get more work done efficiently, they said. Neighbors would be informed of when the closure would happen and would be able to get through.
Interior alterations will begin in August, but those details have yet to be filed with the DOB, officials said.
The architect on record is Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, known for its work on 35 Hudson Yards and a number of other glass towers in the city.
The Dalton School's plan first emerged in the fall of 2013, when it pitched the expansion to Community Board 8's Land Use Committee. It was there that the proposal was shot down by neighbors who said students paying $40,000 per year should go somewhere else if they weren't happy with their current building.
"They're all gargantuan," CB8 member Elizabeth Ashby said of the plan at the time. "They have to be bigger and bigger and bigger. They need this, they need that. The addition of the moment seems to be the greenhouse — next it'll be a heliport."
"They've already been given a lot of privilege," said another East 88th Street neighbor. "All they want is more."
The school's officials argued that Dalton couldn't meet students' demands for computer science courses or any advanced courses, like game theory.
The city's BSA approved a zoning variance to allow for the expansion in January of 2014.
School officials will hold a meeting for neighbors about the construction on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the building's theater.