BROOKLYN — Downtown Brooklyn is getting a new public school with more than 300 seats, a developer of an office tower in the booming area promised this week.
JEMB Realty Corporation plans to include the school in its project at 420 Albee Sq. — to be called One Willoughby Square — which will include more than 380,000 square feet of commercial space, city officials announced Tuesday.
JEMB’s Morris Jerome previously told DNAinfo that his firm had planned to build a residential tower on the site when he realized that thousands of rentals were about to open nearby, so he switched gears in 2015 to focus on building office space.
With all of the residential construction though, the need for schools in the area of District 13, which also includes Brooklyn Heights, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, has increased. Downtown Brooklyn is expected to have more new rentals come on line this year than any other neighborhood in Brooklyn, and with its 2,300 projected new units, is No. 2 for new rentals citywide, according to a recent analysis from Rent Café.
The type of school has not yet been selected, though residents in the area have been clamoring for additional elementary schools.
The School Construction Authority (SCA) and the city’s Economic Development Corporation worked with JEMB to establish a school with more than 300 seats within the first six floors of the new building and a dedicated entrance on Albee Square West.
"We are excited to be a part of this unique development and to bring needed school seats to the Downtown Brooklyn community,” Lorraine Grillo, president and CEO of the SCA, said in a statement. “With over 300 seats, this project will allow us to make a meaningful investment in the neighborhood while ensuring we continue to support our growing communities.”
Other new schools planned for the area include a 616-seat middle school at 664 Pacific St., at the massive Atlantic Yards project in Prospect Heights, now called Pacific Park.
In neighboring District 15, Alloy Development’s 74- and 38-story towers at 80 Flatbush, on the border of Boerum Hill and Downtown Brooklyn, are slated to get two schools, pending it can get a zoning change to construct a bigger building. The Khalil Gibran Academy, which is at the site, would move into one of the new school buildings, increasing the high school’s capacity from 260 to 350 students. The second school would be a new 350-seat elementary school located on State Street.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and other leaders wrote in a 2015 letter to the SCA that the "historic and unprecedented amount of development growth” in the area required new schools, saying: "Unless action is taken now to build new space to address this shortfall, Downtown Brooklyn could be in the midst of a major school capacity crisis.”
The SCA said last year it received city funding for 1,800 new seats in school District 13 and 1,600 new seats in District 15, as part of its updated five-year capital plan amendment for 2015 to 2019.