The Board of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has approved the transfer of a 16,653 square foot parcel of land adjacent to Thurgood Marshall Plaza, a 13-story seniors-only building in Harlem, to the School Construction Authority (SCA) for a mixed-use project that will include a combined middle and high school. The building will house a new 570-seat facility for the Community Health Academy of the Heights, as well as a community health clinic. Construction will begin by fall 2009 and is projected to finish in time for the start of the 2012-13 school-year.
"This is a win-win situation for everyone," said NYCHA Chairman John B. Rhea. "Everyone is on board for this project: the residents of Marshall Plaza, the community, NYCHA and the School Construction Authority, and the 570 children who will benefit from a new environment conducive to their learning. This approval is consistent with NYCHA's commitment to use our properties to serve the community and getting the most value for our developments," he added.
The Marshall Plaza site, located between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues and 157th to 158th Streets, will serve as a new facility for the Community Health Academy of the Heights, which will be moving into the space from a smaller, temporary facility. The building will also house the Community Health League Health Center, a clinic that will be operated by the non-profit Community Healthcare Network. The facility will include a top-floor gymnasium.
"We're very pleased that we've been able to reach an agreement with NYCHA that will help to bring a brand new school building to Upper Manhattan," School Construction Authority President Sharon Greenberger said. "This is part of our work across New York City to construct new school buildings, and ensure that students are learning in facilities that are state-of-the-art."
The property is currently a playground, a parking area for six cars, and a portion of the landscaped grounds serving the housing development. The property will be purchased from NYCHA by the SCA for $5.2 million, the fully-appraised value of the land. None of the development's six existing parking spaces will be lost; they will be relocated and maintained as part of the facility by SCA under an agreement for the benefit of NYCHA residents.
Earlier this summer, NYCHA again demonstrated its commitment to education when plans for the location of Coney Island Preparatory School at NYCHA's Carey Gardens Community Center moved forward. The charter school will be the first in the City to open in a public housing development. It will utilize the second floor of the community center, with access to the gym and a computer room as well as some shared space used by an after-school program.
"When we have a piece of land that can be developed as either affordable housing or for educational purposes and we get fair-market value for our property, then we have scored a major victory," Rhea said. "The seniors at Marshall Plaza got on board early with the concept of the use of the land for an educational and healthcare facility and worked with NYCHA, local elected officials and other stakeholders to make it happen," Rhea added.
NYCHA, aside from providing safe and affordable housing for low-to-moderate income New Yorkers, has a significant positive impact on the City's economy. On average NYCHA attracts over $3 billion in federal funds to be spent locally in operating programs and maintaining properties. Of these federal funds, $817 million are paid directly to approximately 30,000 local landlords participating in the Section 8 program.