The Obama administration’s vision for community revitalization challenges
housing authorities across the country to undertake comprehensive plans for
neighborhood development that integrate housing, schools, commercial corridors,
community facilities, improved infrastructure and transportation.
Through a partnership with the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), NYCHA is taking
on this challenge to transform communities, and empower and engage residents.
The Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ)/ Saint Nicholas Houses Project will bring to
- A new charter school, operated by Harlem Children's Zone, will be located
on the grounds of Saint Nicholas Houses. HCZ's Promise Academies have outgrown
their current facilities and they have been looking for a location within
its Zone to build a new school building.
- Building a school at St. Nicholas Houses also provides an
opportunity to re-introduce West 129th Street between Frederick Douglass and
Adam Clayton Powell Boulevards.Building a school and community facility at St.
Nicholas Houses meets the dual goals of NYCHA revitalizing public housing
neighborhoods and HCZ expanding services to families in public housing.
- No residents will be displaced or buildings demolished as part of
WHY SAINT NICHOLAS HOUSES?
- HCZ has provided after-school programs at the St. Nicholas and Lincoln
Houses Community Centers since 2008, and has become a trusted and valued
- HCZ already provides services for approximately 770 St. Nicholas Houses
residents across 20 different programs including, Baby College, pre-school
programs, after school programs, its charter schools, and its family/community
WHAT IS HAPPENING AT ST. NICHOLAS HOUSES
- HCZ plans to build a 130,000 sq ft charter school for Promise Academy I
that will serve up to 1,300 Kindergarten to 12th grade students at St.
- The school will be open at nights and weekends for the neighborhood free
- The new school building will be five stories and situated along the newly
reopened portion of West 129th Street. An attached two-story gym will
extend northwest. The building will include: 52 general classrooms; 2
libraries; 2 art rooms; a computer lab; 3 science rooms, 6 special
education/intervention rooms; music, dance, drama, and fitness rooms; a
full-sized gymnasium/auditorium; locker rooms; large cafeteria and kitchen;
multi-purpose room; and school-based health center.
- West 129th Street between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell
Boulevards will be re-opened.
- A NYCHA parking lot with 34 spaces will be displaced to make way for the
re-opened West 129th Street. Thirty parking spaces will be relocated to
two smaller lots on the south side of the re-opened West 129th Street and four
spaces will be added to the lot at Frederick Douglass Blvd and West 130th
- One playground in the bed of West 129th Street will be removed and not be
replaced. There are 4 other play areas on site that serve the children of St.
- More than 30,000 sq ft of open space will be newly landscaped and will
have improved lighting.
- In consultation with NYCHA residents, three gardens tended by residents
will be relocated to accommodate the project.
- At the conclusion of construction, all property will be publically
owned. The new school building and property on which its built will be
owned by the Department of Education and leased to Harlem Children's Zone. If
the ULURP is approved, the new street will be transferred to the City of New
York. The renovated open space, parking lots, and all other property at St.
Nicholas will remain the property of NYCHA.
- See renderings of the
school and a site plan
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE PROJECT TO THE HARLEM COMMUNITY?
- Children of St. Nicholas Houses have first open preference for HCZ's
Promise Academy I's school lottery. The lottery is held two years before
kindergarten (at age 3). Based on current demographics, now and in future
years, all three-year olds at St. Nicholas who apply to the school are
expected to be enrolled.
- In HCZ's August 2010 lottery, all 33 St. Nicholas families that
applied were accepted.
- Second open preference in the lottery is for children in the local
Community School District 5 who qualify for free or reduced lunch (low
Job Opportunities for NYCHA Residents and the Surrounding
- The new school will provide approximately 100 long-term jobs and HCZ has
committed to hire locally for all available positions. HCZ is already
working closely with NYCHA residential services outreach and recruitment for
positions that are currently available.
- HCZ committed and hired 100 St. Nicholas youths for its summer youth
- There will be over 200 union construction jobs available during the
various phases of construction. HCZ is working closely with NYCHA and local
unions to develop a plan to hire as many qualified NYCHA residents and local
community members for construction positions as possible.
- HCZ has a history of success hiring MWBE's and is committed to do the same
at the St. Nicholas site.
A State-of-the-Art Neighborhood Facility and Services - FREE to the
- Residents and community members will have access to a state of the art
gym, fitness, technology, and community meeting facilities, for free of
- HCZ will be able to expand its after school programs currently
operating at St. Nicholas to reach even more youth.
- HCZ will offer adult education, social, and recreation classes weeknights
and Saturdays. HCZ will design programs to meet the needs of the community and
will consult with St. Nicholas residents to identify additional programs they
would like offered.
- All programs, services, and facilities are free and open
to the community.
Enhanced Safety and Security
- The new school will be located in the center of St. Nicholas Houses and
will bring additional safety and security through lighting, foot-traffic, and
- The supportive adult presence of over 100 staff, including trained
security staff, will monitor inside and outside the building and engage youth
in positive programming.
WHAT COMMUNITY OUTREACH HAS OCCURED?
NYCHA and HCZ have engaged the community, residents, and elected officials
since December 2009 through dozens of meetings that included:
Nicholas Tenant Association meetings
o Meetings with local elected
o Community Board 10 Land Use and Transportation Committee
o Community Education Council 5 meeting
North COP meeting
o Public meeting for the community and residents on
May 5, 2010 at the Dempsey Center
o Additional meetings/events at St.
Nicholas including an Open House; topic specific follow up meetings on:
educational opportunities, safety, the street design, and construction
mitigation strategies; participation in Family Day; and a job fair.
HOW IS THE PROJECT FUNDED?
- Harlem Children's Zone will raise $40M for the project, while the NYC
Department of Education is contributing $60M through the Charter School
Facilities Matching Grant program. New York City will pay for the
reconstruction of West 129th Street.
- NYCHA will receive $7M from HCZ for acquisition of the land to build the
school. No NYCHA funds will be used to build the school.
TIMELINE AND NEXT STEPS
- Construction is expected to start in late January/early February 2011 and
to take between 18-20 months.
- NYCHA and HCZ will establish monthly meetings for residents about the
project to take place at St. Nicholas, starting in January 2011, and
continuing through the duration of the construction process.
- For More Information Please Contact:
Harlem Children's Zone: Lauren
Scopaz at 212-360-3255 or NYCHA: Katherine Gray at
This project has been a collaboration with the Department of
Education (DOE), the School Construction Authority (SCA), the Department of City
Planning (DCP), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Housing Development (HPD) and
the Mayor's Office to create a sound plan.